The Black Dog Institute is a renowned institute in the mental health world whose whole basis is on researching methods and strategies that work. From their evidence based research they developed the R.E.A.C.H program for people diagnosed with Depression and Bipolar disorder.
So what is it?
It is a 9 week psycho education program that teaches the life skills necessary to cope with these debilitating illnesses. Right from the first session techniques are taught in a warm atmosphere of support that will bring relief and calmness to those struggling to deal with life's everyday challenges.
The sessions are sometimes fun, sometimes serious but ALWAYS conducted in an atmosphere of acceptance and respect for the participants as individuals. It does not try to prescribe a "one-shoe fits all" method for dealing with Depression; rather the facilitator works with each participant as an individual as they create their own plan for wellbeing, tailored to their own unique set of circumstances and challenges.
Grief and loss, one of the areas highlighted by the Institute's research as a key factor in the onset of depression or the trigger for a depressive episode is addressed during this program in a sensitive way that fosters hope.
Being a psycho education program it is important to point out that this is NOT a therapy group, although the facilitator is a professional counsellor this particular program is not therapy; rather it is focused on educating, informing, encouraging individual choice as to how best to manage their illness.
It is a group setting and just being a part of a group of people who experience similar issues can be immensely relieving for sufferers. Realising you are not alone is powerful. Realising there are strategies that have been proven to work is encouraging and gives the one ingredient that it often feels is lost when depression sets in and that is hope.
The only people who can facilitate a R.E.A.C.H program are those who have been through training provided by the Black Dog Institute itself and there are stringent criteria that must be met before someone is even accepted on the training program.
It is also to be noted that this program is run at minimal cost, which means that no profit is made, the charge covers the cost of materials and venue.