Talking about Mental Health with Gerrit Willemse



Gerrit Willemse2

How do you look after your headspace?

I make sure that I also have a life outside my working hours. My family is precious to me and even though some of them are staying far away I make sure to have regular contact with them. I love the outdoors and traveling -  it gives my wife and I time to chill out and relax. That’s how I get my life perspective.

How would you approach a friend if you were worried about them?

I've had to do this many times. Sitting down with them and listening to what they are going through is an important first step. I make sure I remember that I do not have to agree with how they experience things and respect that it is the way they see things. I do not provide quick fix solutions because that can often make them feel worse. Feeling listened to and having their experience affirmed can form a big part of the healing process for many people. I offer practical help, I don't just tell my friends what to do - I offer to do it with them. “Can I take you to see your GP?” or saying "Let’s go and see the Counsellor at school” is much better than saying “You should get help, mate!”

Personally I take my lead from the late Don Ritchie (the Angel of the Gap). He stayed next to the high cliffs at the entry to Sydney harbour and saved hundreds of lives of desperate people; he said: “Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a kind word." That’s what I do, I listen, share a kind word and provide helping hand.

Tell us a little bit about your role at headspace Bathurst?

As a Senior Psychologist I have the role of Clinical Lead for our headspace Centres in Bathurst and Cowra. This means that I provide leadership with our clinical work, supervision and guidance to the headspace team. I also deliver direct clinical services to some of the young people accessing our Bathurst Centre and help with the development, ongoing review and maintenance of the Clinical Governance Framework for headspace. I work very closely with our headspace management team to ensure that we provide the best service we possibly can.   

If you had a super power what would it be?

I would stretch the hours in a day so that I could have more time for my passion – to help people!