How Supported Independent Living (SIL) Helps With Mental Health

April 25, 2024

When it comes to living with mental health conditions, a huge proportion of Australians can relate through first-hand experience.  

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 19.8 million Australians reported having a mental health condition at some stage in their life. This means a whopping 43% of Australians will require varying levels of support and personal care. 

The NDIS and Mental Healthcare  

Because mental health conditions have ranging effects, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) doesn't automatically consider a mental health condition to be a disability. Instead, it focuses on how the condition impacts your day-to-day life. 

NDIS guidance outlines specific criteria for eligibility: 

  • Impairment: You must have a permanent impairment (loss or damage to mental function). 
  • Functional Impact: This impairment needs to result in a substantially reduced functional capacity in one or more areas of daily life: communication, social interaction, learning, mobility, self-care, and self-management. 
  • Support Needs: The impairment is likely to be longstanding and will require ongoing support from the NDIS. 

In a nutshell, a diagnosed mental health condition becomes a disability according to NDIS guidelines when it causes lasting difficulties with daily activities and necessitates home and living supports

Supported Independent Living

Before the NDIS, support for mental health disabilities was fragmented and inconsistent. Making things even more tricky, care was often institutionalised with limited opportunities for independent living.  

The NDIS was introduced in 2013 to give NDIS participants more control and choice with their support and accommodation, with a single funding plan giving access to a wider range of services addressing a person's individual needs.    

NDIS funding can be used to access a place to live and various mental health supports, including Supported Independent Living (SIL). SIL offers a unique model of support that helps you live as independently as possible. At the same time, you'll still receive the specialist support needed for performing day-to-day tasks and building essential life skills.  

SIL services offer a range of life-changing benefits, including: 

✔️Increased Independence and Control: SIL prioritises individual choice. As long as it's covered by your NDIS plan, you can choose the level and type of support you receive, allowing you to build confidence and manage your lifestyle with greater autonomy.

✔️Personalised Support: SIL support plans are created in collaboration with support coordinators and tailored to each person's needs and goals. Having this support coordination ensures you receive the right level of assistance with tasks like meal preparation, cleaning, medication management, and those all-important social activities.

✔️Improved Quality of Life: By addressing daily living needs and promoting independence, SIL can significantly enhance your overall well-being. This can lead to increased social engagement, improved mental health, and a greater sense of purpose.

✔️Community Inclusion: SIL allows people to live as residents in regular houses within their communities, leading to stronger social connections. This combats isolation, promotes a more inclusive environment, and helps you build that wonderful sense of belonging.

✔️Skills Development and Goal Achievement: Support coordinators and workers can assist people in developing life skills and pursuing personal goals. This gives SIL participants the tools needed to carve out their own future, enabling you to reach your full potential and live life your way.

How SIL Helps with Specific Disabilities

SIL is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and the type of support provided will vary depending on a person’s disability. 

So, how can SIL help with your mental health needs specifically, and what might it look like in practice?

Here are a few specific examples of disabilities and how SIL can be a game changer. 

Psychosocial Disabilities 

Psychosocial disabilities arise from mental health conditions and can affect emotions, social interactions, and daily life. 

Schizophrenia: This is a mental health condition that causes the person to have an altered experience of reality. It causes psychosis, which is when people experience delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia affects people’s thoughts, perceptions and behaviour, and often interferes with their ability to function at work and socially.

How SIL Helps: People with schizophrenia may require supervision with managing medications, maintaining healthy routines, and developing coping mechanisms for hallucinations or delusions.

Bipolar Disorder: People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings between states of mania and depression. Manic states are characterised by elevated levels of energy and activity, while states of depression are characterised by low energy and periods of intense sadness. 

How SIL helps: People with bipolar disorder can use SIL services to develop coping mechanisms for mood swings. SIL can also help them develop the skills needed to manage daily tasks during periods of mania or depression. 

Beyond these examples, other psychosocial disabilities that SIL can support include:  

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  

Learning Disabilities 

Learning disabilities are neurological differences that interfere with how someone learns and processes information. 

Fragile X Syndrome: This is an inherited condition that causes intellectual disability and a range of physical, behavioural and emotional symptoms. People with Fragile X Syndrome may have learning difficulties, movement and communication problems, anxiety, and autism.

How SIL Helps: People with Fragile X Syndrome can benefit from SIL-funded therapies like speech and occupational therapy to enable them to develop communication and daily living skills. If their movements are restricted, they may require support with meal preparation.

Because people with Fragile X Syndrome often have other secondary mental health conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), they may need additional specific therapies that can be provided by SIL.    

Other learning disabilities that SIL can help with include: 

  • Down Syndrome 
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 

It’s important to note that the above is not an exhaustive list. SIL can be adapted to support a wide range of mental health disabilities, allowing people with a variety of needs to live life to the fullest. 

Ready to take control of your independence? 

When it comes to picking a SIL provider, nobody should ever compromise and settle for a so-so service. Live life on your terms with United for Care’s personalised Supported Independent Living (SIL) service plans, paired with our modern, accessible Vertical Villages.  

United for care’s Vertical Villages offer innovative features, convenient amenities, and a supportive community environment, making daily life smoother and more enriching. 

Our team of experts will collaborate with you to build a service and accommodation plan that reflects your goals and needs.

Whether you want greater independence or require more extensive support, we’ll be with you every step of the way.  

Contact United for Care today to discover how you can live a life that's well and truly you, with all the support and freedom you deserve. 

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Call Us: 1300 405 260

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