Mental Health support for carers

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Melissah Bult

Melissah Bult

Melissa Bult loves her work supporting people – especially if it’s over a nice cup of tea.

As a Senior Carer Peer Coordinator, Melissa helps families and relatives navigate mental health services for their loved ones.

‘I like to meet mental health carers where and when it suits them. Whether it’s on the phone, in a café or in their home,’ she said.

As a mother and grandmother, Melissa draws upon her experience in mental health which began when a family member was admitted to the Cairns Hospital Mental Health Unit 15 years ago.

‘I had a few concerns about their care, and I was really grateful that my concerns were listened to,’ Melissa explains. ‘Gradually over the years I became more involved in supporting other families.’

Melissa supports people whose loved ones have been admitted to our mental health services or have been recently discharged.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service delivers specialist diagnosis and treatment for people of all ages with complex mental health conditions. Our services include adult mental health, eating disorders, older persons mental health, child and youth mental health, and alcohol and other drugs services.

‘Caring for a loved one experiencing a mental health crisis can be a confusing and daunting time,’ said Melissa.

‘The first day your loved one is admitted to a mental health ward is horrible.

‘There is misconception that now they are in hospital they will be fixed or cured - but this is rarely the case.

‘The good news is that when you involve families in a person’s care, they are less likely to relapse and less likely to need to come back to hospital.’

Melissa’s role involves helping with referrals and pathways, and linking people in with support groups and our partner services.

‘I understand that caring for someone is very taxing,’ said Melissa. ‘I tell carers you need to have as much compassion for yourself as for those you are taking care of.’

Melissa is very excited about the new Mental Health Unit which is expected to open on the Cairns Esplanade in 2024.

‘I sat on the working group for five years and worked with a group of people on the new building designs,’ said Melissa. ‘It’s one of the prettiest locations in Australia and a healing place.’

How to get support

Carers who are seeking support for inpatients can ask for a referral to the Senior Carer Peer Coordinator from their loved one’s nurse or doctor.

Support for adults that are not inpatients

If you're not already a client and need support, information, or a referral, call 1300 MHCALL (1300 64 22 55) as your first point of contact for adult mental health services. You'll speak to a trained operator to help us to determine which service you need.

Support for children who are not inpatients

You can make an appointment without a referral from a health professional. Young people, their carers and families are able to get a referral by:

Referrals can also be made by doctors, schools and health professionals.

For more information see the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service website:

If you're distressed and need immediate help, call triple zero (000).

Support from other local organisations

You can also seek help from a general practitioner or reach out to the many agencies and services in the Cairns region.