Sutherland Hospital program ‘a life-saver’

Life ‘‘saved’’: Karina Whitehurst and Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell. Picture: Jane Dyson
Life ‘‘saved’’: Karina Whitehurst and Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell. Picture: Jane Dyson

A Menai mother has said how a new mental health program that was pioneered at Sutherland Hospital had proved a ‘‘life- saver’’ as she battled an illness that was widely perceived to be incurable.

NSW Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell visited the hospital to announce the government would provide $1.8 million to expand Project Air, which trains staff to diagnose and treat patients with complex personality disorders.

Mr Rowell listened intently as Karina Whitehurst said she felt ‘‘doomed’’ after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

However, after joining the Project Air program, run by the mental health unit at Sutherland Hospital, she had rediscovered the joy of living.

Ms Whitehurst said she and her husband Scott and daughter Holly-Mae, 18, had benefited immensely from the program.

‘‘It takes time and determination and you really have to work at it, but you can get better,’’ she said.

‘‘When I was first diagnosed at 40, five years ago, I went home and Googled borderline personality disorder.

‘‘I honestly thought I was doomed because there was this stigma, and part of the stigma was that we were untreatable.

‘‘That view is slowly changing ... this is what Project Air is about.’’

See more in Thursday's Leader

Do you know others who have benefited from this program?

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