Tim Heffernan and Toni Garretty among new Deputy Commissioners for mental health

Photo credit: NSW Mental Health Commission 

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative congratulates Tim Heffernan and Toni Garretty on their new appointments as part-time Deputy Commissioners with the NSW Mental Health Commission.

Mr Heffernan is the Mental Health Peer Coordinator at COORDINARE. He brings to the role lived experience of mental health issues and aims to support others through the recovery process. Mr Heffernan is also a Peer Worker with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) and been a member of the Commission’s Community Advisory Council since 2014.

“Peer work is a relatively new workforce, but it’s probably the workforce we need most to achieve significant improvements in mental health. I am honoured to join the team at the Commission and I look forward to the journey over the next three years,” Mr Heffernan said.

Ms Garretty is a mental health practitioner and family care coordinator supporting clinicians in family-inclusive practice. Ms Garretty is passionate about working in partnership, reducing stigma and increasing understanding and awareness around mental health issues. She also works with ISLHD as a Clinical Coordinator for the Family and Carer Mental Health Program.

“I am thrilled to have been chosen to work with the Commission for Mental Health Reform within NSW. Research shows that supporting families and carers benefits people with mental health conditions, enhances the effectiveness of service delivery, decreases hospital admissions and reduces relapse rates,” Ms Garretty said.

Alongside six other Deputy Commissioners from across the state, Mr Heffernan and Ms Garretty will share their knowledge and lived experience to help develop and implement priorities for mental health reform.

Some priority areas for the Commission include: carers, suicidality, clinical supports, service management, peer work, Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing, mental health of young people and LGBTIQ+ people, the role of Primary Health Networks (PHNs), and leadership in the community managed sector.

Mr Heffernan and Ms Garretty’s insights will also add value to the Commission’s five-year strategic plan, Key Directions 2018-2023, and the mid-term review of Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024.