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Stories of hope to help TAFE NSW students gain industry insights


Stories of hope to help TAFE NSW students gain industry insights

HELP AT HAND: Nowra mum Mel Banks, who has lived experience with mental health challenges, will be part of a unique Living Library project at TAFE NSW this week.

24 October 2022

A unique project that sees human “books” loaned out to community members is helping destigmatise mental health conditions and giving local TAFE NSW students frontline experience.

The TAFE NSW Mental Health Living Library, to be held this Friday, allows real people to share recovery stories to small groups in online sessions with interested community members, who act as borrowers.

Held as part of Mental Health Month, the Living Library has been organised by TAFE NSW mental health students, who gain valuable experience by having recovery conversations with participants following the event, just as a mental health professional would in a clinical setting.

TAFE NSW Nowra mental health teacher Chloe Hancock said the innovative project helped foster a deeper understanding of mental health conditions in the community.

“When people hear the unique experiences of others who are on a recovery journey, it is incredibly inspiring and powerful,” Ms Hancock said.

“This can be a profound experience for both the ‘book’ and the ‘borrower’, and also gives TAFE NSW mental health students crucial experience in a real-world setting.”  

She said the event, which is being run in conjunction with local industry, also helped TAFE NSW students bolster their professional networks and tap into future job opportunities.

The nation’s mental health workforce is in a steep growth phase, climbing 6.5 per cent last year with more growth expected.

Nowra mum Mel Banks is one of a number of locals to volunteer as a living book at the event.

Ms Banks, 43, is autistic and has co-occuring mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and PTSD.

“I want to share my recovery story and hopefully someone listening will have a lightbulb moment,” Ms Banks said.

“It’s really about destigmatizing mental health. It’s normal; everyone struggles.”

Ms Banks is hoping to study mental health in future at TAFE NSW.

The Mental Health Virtual Living Library is a collaboration between TAFE NSW and mental health organisation, WayAhead NSW, and will be held on Friday, 28 October from 1pm to 4pm. Registrations can be made by emailing

Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, 0477 722 428