This time of year can be hectic, as we try to wrap things up and get ourselves ready for the new year. One of the things I like to do as the year ends is take some time to reflect on my achievements and challenges by asking myself a few reflective prompts.
What is something you felt really excited about this year?
I was thrilled that eFriend won the Lived Experience Leadership category at the Mental Health Services Awards of Australia and New Zealand! We have worked so hard as a team, and it feels really special to be acknowledged for our continued focus on peer-led practice. Although we were initially set up to support those who were isolated during the beginnings of the pandemic, it’s amazing to see how many other types of people have benefitted from having virtual access to a peer support worker. Whether they live rurally, live with a disability, have had bad experiences with clinical services, or simply find it easier to fit in a 30 minute phone call – it has been a special experience to use our own experiences of mental distress to provide connection, validation, and hope. We’ve had over 1300 calls this year, supporting more than 200 people!
What is something you have learnt that you want to take into the next year?
I have learnt a lot from the people we support through eFriend and from my team. The thing that stands out to me though, is the power of being vulnerable and the courage it takes. As a peer worker, I’ve been inspired by the people that I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the year and blown away by the courage they show in their lives.
What is something you lost this year and what is something I gained this year?
As they say, “there is no constant except change” and whilst I know this, it doesn’t always make it easier. While I’ve been thrilled that members of the team have moved onto other opportunities, they were definitely missed as members of the team. However, we’ve also been able to welcome new people to the team which has brought new energy and ideas.
What did you do this year that has had a positive impact on your wellbeing?
I was new to the eFriend Team Leader role this year, stepping up from the Shift Supervisor role late last year. As a person with both mental and physical health issues, I knew taking on this additional responsibility would mean managing my energy more carefully. While I’m often tired by the end of the day, I still make sure to allocate time for things that bring my life meaning outside of work. Whether it’s taking a regular exercise class, working on a craft project or listening to an audiobook, it’s been important to fill my cup by pursuing my other interests – depending on how much I felt up to at the time.
Being a peer worker and leading the eFriend team is something I’m incredibly proud of. I’ve learnt a lot about myself both professionally and personally, and I feel like I honour my experience by taking a moment to reflect and share.
We are all part of the system that supports people who are experiencing loneliness and distress. I hope that you get a moment to reflect on what the year has meant to you and the learnings you want to take into 2023.
Happy new year,