Our journey so far
A Path To Follow started as a small volunteer initiative in 2010. It has grown organically, launching as a small business in 2019 and becoming incorporated as a not-for-profit organisation at the end of 2022.
APTF initially focused on raising awareness of mental ill-health in local community, alongside realising significant financial support for a local youth mental health services by hosting fundraising events.
Motivated by a family history of mental ill health, her own lived/living experiences in mental health challenges as both a consumer and a carer, and her professional experiences in varied community services, A Path To Follow was born.
Kirstie imagined a world where A Path To Follow could positively impact the way her boys and all young people and families, could be supported in by community and services that people of her generation were not.
Why A Path To Follow
Motivated by long wait lists for the few peer support programs in existence, the limitations of our mental health systems to support families, and the unique needs of young people, three program streams were developed within a strengths-based focus on partnership, learning together and holding hope.
Our Sporting Peer Program was the first program launched, with its underlying principles based in the prevention and early intervention of mental health challenges, while enhancing the chances of young people remaining connected to community. Our Youth Peer Support Program, based in early intervention and personalised response, and our Family Peer Support and Advocacy Program (personalised and flexible service response and advocacy) came next with a focus on holistically walking belong young people and families where they are at.
We are passionate about using a strengths-based support peer model where we support young people and families to explore inside themselves for the gold that is already there. We then support and advocate beside them to navigate family, community and services in a way that best supports their needs and preferences.
Live Experience in Mental Health
Kirstie identifies as a consumer, carer and professional in mental health. It is using this unique blend of experiences that Kirstie approaches her work with A Path To Follow.
For as long as Kirstie can remember, she felt as if she was on the outside looking in, searching for her place in other people, other places and other minds and hearts. These experiences were finally realised with the onset of substantial depression after the birth of two of her children. Kirstie continues to navigate mental health challenges and is open about her ongoing connection with her Psychologist to accomplish this.
Kirstie knew, statistically, that one of her 3 boys were looking likely to experience some extent of challenges in terms of their wellbeing. That came to fruition in 2016 after her middle son lost two classmates to suicide from within the same class: one a close mate.
Her son’s journey through all tiers of the mental health system saw him spiral further into years of mental ill health and trauma, evolving from a broken system without enough champions to save everyone. Alongside him two brothers and two parents left with little support to fight a battle they knew little about; coming out the other side, together, but forever changed.
A Path To Follow’s programs are designed to support families and young people in a way the system cannot; in a way the system could not support their family, nor the majority of young people and families entering it; as partners and towards hope.
Professional Experience in Mental Health
Kirstie has over 25 years of experience working the community, with over 13 years of that in leadership positions across publicly funded family, allied and mental health services.
She is skilled and experienced in competently supervising varied teams, developing and facilitating small and large group workshops, young person wellbeing and safety and advocacy across all of these areas and all ages.
For more information on Kirstie’s professional experience please see here.