Insights was founded August 2004 as a support group for people who experience bipolar disorder. The group commenced when a handful of people experiencing bipolar disorder including John H – in tandem with carer Barrie M – approached Mark L, then consumer consultant at Ballarat Health Services – Mental Health Services with the idea of forming the group. The group visited the then Bacchus Marsh Bipolar Group and Mindworks in Geelong (then the Geelong Mood Disorder Group) http://mindworksgeelong.org.au/ to get some ideas on starting a group.
Our aim was to form a group, which would assist those living with bipolar to:
- Form a network of friends; and
- Learn skills, which would assist and sustain recovery & prevent relapse
The group invited Dr Praveen Thottappillil, then a psychiatrist with Ballarat Health Services Mental Health Services, to speak at the launch of the group. Thirty people attended the launch and Insights was born.
The group has reinvented itself three times as experienced members move on to pursue other interests and/or to meet other demands in their lives, and there is a need to take Insights to a new generation. Those who have assisted us in these periods of waning and waxing include:
- Dr Sarah Russell, coordinator of Research Matters, who spoke at a re-launch of Insights in the late 2000’s which was attended by over 100 people. See http://www.research-matters.com.au
- Liz Carr and David Mithen, from the Maine Connection, with whom the Insights group consulted in about 2012 in order to gain experience of a more mature and effective mental health support group in sustaining the group and making it more effective.
In this second reinvention, Insights followed the lead of the Maine Connection and expanded its focus from purely bipolar disorder to open the group to those experiencing any serious mental illness, emotional issues or social isolation.
In our third re-invention, we have expanded the leadership group of 4 members, including those with a lived experience & their partners.
Up until 2017, Insights has chiefly been supported financially by the Department of Human Services Disability Self Help Grants http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/. In late 2015, the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council http://www.vmiac.org.au and the National Disability Insurance Scheme http://www.ndis.gov.au/ began its support of Insights.
Insights had as its home, first and for many years at the Old Queen St School site. The use of the Old Queen St School site has covered the period from the 2004 until the start of 2016. From 2016, that home has moved from the Old Queen School site to its current home at Wellways, 53 Humffray St Nth, Ballarat Central.