Senior peer worker Jesse Warran-Rigby standing outside the Murrumbidgee Local Health District's Safe HavenJesse Warran-Rigby (pictured above) is a Senior Peer Worker with Murrumbidgee Local Health District's Suicide Prevention Outreach Team (SPOT), a Towards Zero Suicides initiative.

Jesse believes that anyone experiencing a crisis should have access to a Safe Haven, however the size of the Murrumbidgee region means there isn't always one around the corner.

This is where SPOT comes in.

"The SPOT program is a telehealth-based service that supports people going through psychological distress, suicidal ideation or have attempted to end their own life."

"Mental health crises don't stick to a 9-to-5 schedule, so we work with community mental health teams to provide support outside normal business hours or on weekends when people might be more likely to need help."

The SPOT program provides a stopgap between the moment of crisis and the Emergency Department (ED).

"A lot of people just want to talk. Most of them know what they need to do to stay well, and we can help reinforce the skills they have or share strategies that have helped each of us."

"People can self-refer to us or they might work with a caseworker to come into our care with a safety or stabilisation plan, and we'll refer to that plan in order to keep the person safe when they might not have contact with anyone else."

"SPOT offers a non-clinical, human connection for people who are geographically isolated but aren't necessarily at the point of an emergency. The virtual approach allows us to be there for people in small towns and villages with person-centred, trauma-informed care."

For many NSW Health staff, passion for the job comes from a lived experience. Jesse is one such person with a story to share.

"I've lived with mental health challenges my whole life," Jesse explains. "At an early age I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and then later bipolar disorder."

After a significant breakdown in 2019 leading to a suicide attempt, Jesse felt lucky to land in the local recovery unit and saw an opportunity to use his experience of crisis and recovery to help others.

With a friend, he founded the Murrumbidgee Men's Group that same year. This led to a peer-to-peer role at the new Safe Haven in Wagga Wagga before securing his current role in 2022 as a SPOT Senior Peer Worker.

Jesse says that the negative impacts of his experience have given him purpose in life.

"My lived experiences made me realise that this is what I wanted to do."

The opportunity to build human connections with a view to reducing suicide rates is ultimately what propels Jesse as a Senior Peer Worker. He knows the value of sharing his lived experience but keeps the focus firmly on the person in need.

According to Jesse, one of the most rewarding parts of his job is watching people's self-perception shift away from the illness they live with and discovering a new definition of themselves.

"I'm Jesse. I like sports. I like gaming. I have depressive moods sometimes but that's not who I am as a person. I live with anxiety but anxiety isn't me."

"Being able to demonstrate that way of thinking is a privilege for us and it's been the most amazing thing to see the results," Jesse adds. "This program works."

To learn more about Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams, visit Towards Zero Suicides.

Current as at: Wednesday 2 November 2022
Contact page owner: Mental Health