Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Moniquea Spiteri (@enveco Health) . Our guest Moniquea Spiteri worked in the field of mental health, personal development, and trauma for over 15 years, A social entrepreneur, somatic psychotherapist, and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
She also the Founder and President of Enveco Health– a social enterprise that will assist those living with mental health conditions regain wellness, retain employment, and be supported in their personal recovery.She was awarded as highly commended in the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Volunteer Champions Awards for Change Maker and 2017 Soar Collective Business Woman of the Year and winner of 2017 Emerging Not for Profit Business of the Year.
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Miko Santos: Welcome to another show of tribe podcasts Auspod syndicates. This is Miko Santos, please. Welcome Moniquea Spiteri welcome to the show, Thank you. Very good. Thank you for having me on. All right. Let’s talk about I’m very interested Moniquea in what is somatic experiencing, how it’s working I’m very interested in that because you are also a somatic psychotherapist. So can you elaborate? What is that?
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, so somatic just comes from the Greek word, Soma meaning body of life. And so I’m a somatic psychotherapist and a somatic experiencing practitioner somatic experiencing was, is a modality that was developed by Dr. Peter Levine and I’m also a teaching assistant with his Institute here in Australia. And so when we worked somatically with the body, we’ll we’re basically saying that we’re using the body in psychotherapy. So it’s not just about talk therapy or talking about what’s happening in the mind. It is about the mind-body connection. So we’re looking at the autonomic nervous system. We’re also looking at the digestive system. We’re looking at the person as a complete system as a whole.
Miko Santos : Sounds interesting. You see, you’re also an advocate of mental health, is that correlated with the somatic experience practitioner and as a psychotherapist?
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, I suppose. So I sort of sort of wear a number of hats. I have a private where I see people One-on-one and I also do things online as well. And so that’s sort of my private practice where I work mainly. I work with a lot of people in regards to healing trauma, so unresolved trauma, early developmental trauma and things like that. I’m also developing a social enterprise and we’re set up as a not-for-profit and as a health promotion charity, which is in Enveco health. And what we’re looking to do is establish a residential therapeutic community model where people will come and reside. They can reside for up to 12 months if they need to then will be able to live
And have support from a range of practitioners with the wellness center, they’ll have work and training and job opportunities as well. And while they’re in recovery, by working with the whole mind-body system, and having people residing in a therapeutic community model, they will be surrounded by their peers. It will also be a P led movement. And we feel that this will be something that is also new and emerging for Australia as it’s something of this scale that has never been done before early
Miko Santos : During early Days, Did you realize you become a Mental health Advocate
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, I suppose. So it happened you know, so 20 years ago this year I lost my father to suicide and it was through watching what he went through in his own journey. And then me, I suppose, going through my own healing journey as well, understanding what he went through in the mental health sector. And you know, what we’re talking about is the traditional mental health sector as well. And then basically looking at well, what was missing for him. Yeah. And then really starting to look at the models of care here in Australia, and then looking at what were the models of care around the world. So looking at Europe, looking at a mirror occur and things like that, it was basically what put me on the trajectory of becoming a somatic psychotherapist looking at, or what’s the root cause of people’s mental health problems.
What’s the root cause of their distress. And so that’s how, yeah, so that’s when I started studying and getting qualified and that was back in 2003, and then I’ve just been working ever since in the mental health sector. So really looking and suppose working in programs that were at the cutting edge. So looking at I’ve worked in a number of federal mental health programs have worked in a number of justice programs and always looking at how that I can support people that have been living with mental health and trauma and distress and how we can actually improve the service sector as well as creating, I suppose, more innovative programs to help people to, I suppose basically people just want to live a contributing line and people can heal from trauma. People can recover from mental health problems as well. And I suppose that’s where my passion came from. It was overcoming own adversities and going through the experience of losing my father to suicide, that really sort of sparked that interest in me and that drive to make a difference in other people’s lives and also the sector in Australia.
Miko Santos: So because of that experience, you have Moniquea, you founded this in Enveco health, correct? Correct. Can you elaborate to us how these Enveco health works and this also a social enterprise as well? How it,
Moniquea Spiteri: So for in Enveco health we are registered, we’re a health promotion charity, and we’re also a deductible gift recipient. So we basically spent quite a bit of time sort of doing the foundational work of setting up the business structure. We were managed by a board as well. And we have a number of industry professionals that sit on our board, I suppose, for a number of years, we’ve been developing the model and refining the model where we’re looking to establish is in Victoria in Australia. And so what we’re waiting for at the moment is we’re waiting for the final report from the Royal commission into mental health services, which is coming out in February. We’ve also had the federal productivity commission report, which is really underpinning and driving what mental health services will look like in the future. For us, we’ve been developing this model now for horribly, for over 10 years, originally started in new South Wales from before moving the project to Victoria.
And what we will be looking at is providing support for people with mental health issues and we’re not talking about acutely mental. We’re not talking about acute mental health where we’re sort of talking about the people that are sort of in the middle of being able to provide them with an opportunity to reside and to live and work and train within their means while they’re in the therapeutic community model. So for example, we’ll have permaculture gardens, whole food cafe. There will be opportunity for people to, to actually be in recovery, seeing a range of practitioners in the wellness center, as well as being able to work in the cafe, getting trainings and skills and say hospitality and things like that. So when people do transition back out into the community, they’ll be able to take training and skills and qualifications with them. So there’ll be a range that’s just sort of, you know, in a real sort of, you know, snapshot of what we’ll be providing.
But there will, the ranges of practitioners will be on site will be somatic psychotherapists, medic experiencing practitioners, holistic GP, psychologists, and things like that. So we’ll be a range of allied health practitioners working in a multidisciplinary clinic. And then people that are actually in residents will have access to all those practitioners through day programs and things like that. So it’s quite a big project. It’s, it’s been a labor of love for quite a while. Because something like this does take a lot of time to get off the ground. It takes a lot of funding as well. And so we’re constantly advocating meeting with government, working with a whole range of stakeholders, as well as looking for investors and funders as well to help drive the project. Yeah.
Miko Santos : So I was, I was looking on your website that the Enveco website, and says , we are committed to developing and providing a fully sustainable living solution for people who experienced trauma and mental ill health to recover in a nurturing nonclinical environment. My next question is can people get over mental illness without medication?
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, so, and I suppose it’s not about saying to get over anything. Definitely. There’s a lot of studies in regards to people wanting nonclinical environment. So going to your doctor and getting a prescription for antidepressants and just taking a pill without doing any psychotherapeutic support does not, is not a quick fix. And, and a lot of people want a quick fix, but there is also a lot of evidence in regards to early intervention and being able to do that without the use of medications. So
Yes, people can, can recover. I’ve worked in the sector for quite a long time, and there’s a number of people that will advocate for non-medication models first. And so remembering, we’re talking, not talking about acutely unwell. So when you’re talking about people that are extremely mentally ill than there is a place for that, that they may require medication, they may require hospitalization, but this will be a nonclinical environment. So we’re not talking about having people in inpatient wards and in a hospital setting, it’s going to be a, a much more natural environment with independent living in a step up or a step down model of care. So people can actually transition back into the community. So there’ll be feeling that they are a part of the community, not separate to the community. And I think that’s a really important thing when we start dealing with mental health issues is that people don’t feel stigmatized, that they don’t feel like that they are separate from the community. They still want to be a part of the community that they live in that they reside in.
Miko Santos : Most of our audience is entrepreneurs and business owners, or start up it it’s still a global pandemic right now. Can you give us an advice on what way to achieve to have like a good mental health, particularly for the entrepreneurs now they’re experiencing a lot of happening .Their business is not good as of now because of the global pandemic and because of that, it can lead to depression or what’s your advice to them to overcome these?
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, look, it’s been a really tough time for a lot of people and a lot of businesses. And I think, you know, I think I’ve created, an eight self care tips for entrepreneurs, which you can give to your, to your listeners as a free gift guide. And, you know, the different things is about creating time out. You know, so me time putting, time away where you can actually be separate from the business, a lot of self care has needed to happen during, during COVID exercising, learning to say no to people, finding ways to unwind every day, you know, nourishing your body ways of being able to, to bring in some self-care and some nurturing, I suppose, for businesses that have been struggling as really sort of getting contact with your local councils, look at all the different government websites.
There’s been plenty of business grants and things like that to support businesses, but it’s really about reaching out and feeling like you’re being supported. If you start feeling like you’re starting to withdraw, not talking to friends, that’s the time when you really need to be reaching out for support connecting with your local you know, council have different sort of chambers of commerce, looking at different networking events that you could possibly attend. You know, a lot of, I know there’s a lot of people that are sort of sick of doing things online and, and being a part of zoom, but, you know, really sort of start looking at some different, different groups and support groups to connect with. So you don’t feel so isolated. I think that it has been a really challenging time for businesses just economically, but also with people’s mental health. Yeah. That’s been a lot of, lot of struggles. So yeah, I think that there’s a lot of information beyond the blue places like that, where people can actually reach out and get the support that they need. I don’t think that it’s a case of a lack of supplies. It’s just knowing where to look for them as well.
MIko Santos : All right. Thank you. Yeah. So there’s a number for Beyond Blue We’ll put on a show notes as well. And also the lifeline Australia I’ll put on a show note. So in case of lifeline, Australia is one, three, one, one, one, four. They also have a crisis support as well. Let’s go back to Enveco health. So what type of client you will have?
Moniquea Spiteri: It will be for anybody. That will be access. Obviously people that will be in Victoria ,would be easier to, to access the service because it will be a residential service as the business grows and the model, sort of transforms that we will have day programs and things like that. But at first it will be focused on the therapeutic community model, which will be a residential, here we’re aiming to have about a capacity of five residents, through the program. but it’s anybody that’s experiencing mental health issues in particular, we will have a strong trauma focus. So if you’re looking at your emergency responders, people like that, defence force personnel, or even anybody that has ongoing childhood trauma. Yeah. It, that that will be a strong focus for the model in regards to people experiencing mental health and, and require and trauma recovery that don’t want to go down the normal hospital route and things like that. So, yeah, so that will basically be the audience that the model will appeal to.
Miko Santos : So you’re saying why you are mostly focusing on the health worker and any health professional in relation with the mental health and a trauma. Do you think there are a risk on getting like these mental illness because of that? I think,
Moniquea Spiteri: Well, health professionals, I think there’s a whole strong case of what we’re looking at is burnout. When you’re looking at your, say your police, your defense force personnel, your paramedics, and people like that, you know, fire, they have a high prevalence to vicarious trauma and PTSD. So I think when it comes to mental health, you know, mental health doesn’t discriminate, you know, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a retail worker or you’re a CEO at some point, people when you’re looking at the statistics, if it’s one in three, some people will experience mental health issues sometime in their life, whether it’s severe PTSD, whether it’s just anxiety, it’s depression, you know, people are stressed at the moment. There is a huge amount of stress. People are overworked. One of the things now that people have been working a lot from home, you know, they’d been juggling dual roles.
There has been no separation between their work and their personal lives. People have been forced to homeschool. People are forced to be working from home. So there’s been no separation now, or at least when people would leave, they go to work and they come home. So everything’s been at home that I think has increased the stress load on people, because there’s the convenience of zoom and things like that. They probably are working longer hours as well. Even though know they’re still at home, it’s just quite easy now to jump online, is it, and have a meeting at say six 30 or seven o’clock at night? I think it’s important while we’re navigating these change of circumstances and the shifts that we still practice really good self-care and try to have those boundaries in place while been working from home. A lot of people are now going back to normal.
People have been going back to their offices and things like that. And so I think that’s bringing a little bit of normality and connection because, you know, people sort of feel it’s a little bit isolating working from home, you know, you miss having your coworkers and things like that. So I think that mental health, it’s not just about the healthcare workers and the frontline workers. It’s about everybody and whether it’s mild mental health issues, anxiety, and depression, right up to, you know, major disorders. I think, you know, it can affect anybody at any time of their life.
Miko Santos : Thank you ,To our listeners and audience, Moniquea also have a podcast as well. Transcending trauma. Can you give us an overview of the podcast and why did you start your podcast?
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, I suppose yeah, why I started the podcast was that I really wanted to start talking to people, not just the professionals or the leading experts in the field, but I wanted to really hear from, from everyday people that have overcome adversity that are passionate about doing work and helping others, and also hoping to, you know, give information to people, some tips to get them through Covid. And yeah, I just love podcasting. I love that. I get to meet different people. I get to talk to some really interesting people that have done amazing things that have overcome some of the, some major adversity and to keep sort of,
Through, and then how they’ve turned their lives around. So that’s what the transcending trauma podcast is about. It’s just hearing from real people doing amazing things. And yeah, I’m really, really enjoying it and looking forward to more interviews as I come into 2021 and hopefully talking to some, some major people, I recently interviewed Dr. Kathy Kezelman, the president of the blue knot foundation. And that was a really interesting interview about dissociation. So yeah, that’s, that’s basically transcending trauma. It does have the trauma focus to it, which has ties it back into my business, but yeah, come 2021. I’m not too sure where, where I’ll take the podcast and, you know, I’m thinking of doing not so many you know, I’ll probably try to mix it up with a little bit of interviewing, but also I want to start bringing in some tools that I can actually give my listeners some, some tips, some exercises to do so while they’re listening to it, whether it’s, you know, a guided meditation or some exercises to access the nervous system, help them to orient, help them to sort of distress while they’re on the go. That’s probably where I’m looking to take the podcast this year.
Miko Santos : Next question is can you give us at least two or three biggest impact to your business because of podcast?
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, I suppose what it’s allowed me to do is a rich, a much larger audience. It’s allowed how it’s affected my business also is it’s allowed me to have a creative outlet, you know, so when I’m working one-on-one with people and especially when I’m work in the trauma field, that it can, but you know, you’re carrying a lot, you’re holding, you’re holding a load. You’re, you’re holding a space for, for people that are recovering from some pretty horrific history. And so podcasting is a bit of a creative outlet for me. It’s I get to be a little bit more fun. I get to sort of engage with people. And so I think it’s allowed me to find balance in my business as well. So by having that creative outlet, yeah, it’s, it’s been a nice break from my sort of everyday practice, which has been good. Yeah.
Miko Santos : What has been your most unexpected surprise during your podcast journey?
Moniquea Spiteri: It was it’s been being approached by the different people that want to come onto my show, which has been really nice. And I suppose being approached by a PR agency as well. So I think it’s just, and sometimes I just get really lovely emails from people that have listened to one of the podcasts or, you know, I read some of my reviews and, and something that I’ve spoken about has really touched someone, you know, or knowing that people are actually reaching out because they’ve listened to an episode and then they’re reaching out for support. You know, that is something that, that I want my podcast to impact people’s lives in a positive way and helping people to feel like they’re not alone, whether they’re just listening to it in the car, you know, and before a person decides that they want to get some support while they may be listening to something for a friend or a family member, you know, that may be just all that they need at that time is to listen and to listen to somebody else’s story and go, wow, they’re going through something just like I’m going through, you know, and that may be enough for them.
And somebody may listen to my podcasts for a few times before they actually reach out for some support or want to do one of my programs or to work with me as well. So I think they’re the biggest impacts and the takeaways that I’ve got from, from branching out into podcasting and adding it as a product to my business.
Miko Santos : So you’re saying that podcasting is going to be a big part of your business as well.
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. It’s just another product that I can sort of sort of add to my offerings or a suite of offerings and I’m going to have online programs. I work one-on-one with people and yeah, and having the podcast is just another way of sort of getting the message out there, you know, and I’ve had a range of different people. I’ve had, you know, a wonderful lady called Amber grace, who was a suicide attempt survivor. That’s set up her own business and now offers peace support services to other suicide attempt survivors, resident of blue knot. I’ve spoken recently to, u,e next us Navy officer, who’s just overcome so many adversities in her life and, you know, is an amazing hypnotist and a coach. So I think with podcasting, it just gives you that opportunity to just meet with such a wide range of people from all around the world. And I think that’s been really good with, you know, with moving things online is that I can be talking to somebody in America and interviewing someone, you know, that afternoon. And then the next week I’ve got the episode out. So I think it’s just a really good medium and yeah, and it can be a really good add on to any business. So
Miko Santos: Would you recommend to entrepreneurs and business owner to have their own podcasts as part of their business.
Moniquea Spiteri: I think what we’ve seen in 2020 is the, is the rise of everybody wants to do podcasting, you know, and we’ll see what happens in 2021. I think it’s, it’s definitely a growing media, but it’s something that you definitely have to be passionate about. You know, if you’re a fruit shop owner, you may want to open and have a podcast, but I think it’s definitely gotta to be something that you want to be passionate about because once you’ve got listeners and they’re listening, they’re wanting, you know, you can’t just sort of do it sporadically. It’s not like you can put an episode up here and then three months later do another episode. It’s it’s once you’ve captured the audience, people are listening, they want to know more,
Moniquea Spiteri: I think it’s one of those things that, yeah, you will morph and you will change. You know, I listened to my very first podcast and I sound very different, you know, 10 or 11 episodes in. And I think you, once you find your voice, find your style, you will change with it as well. And I think people want to hear things that are different, but yeah, I think it’s, it’s an opportunity for everybody to get involved. And if you don’t want to start your own podcast than be a guest on other people’s podcasts, you know, I think people are listening and I think it’s a really good way to get people’s messages out in some way. So definitely
Miko Santos: Being a psychotherapist or somatic psychotherapist as well speaker and coach So how that’s happen while you’re doing your job as psychotherapist and being on the mental health advocate and founded the Enveco health.
Moniquea Spiteri: Don’t a lot, I suppose. It’s just for, you know, I’ve worked in the sector for a very long time, and I think that’s one thing once you sort of start building your own personal brand and your own personal profile you know, you get invited to things. So because I’m quite outspoken and I’ve been a strong advocate, I’ve got lots of connections, you know, in the mental health sector and, and the spaces like that. I get invited to come along and do presentations, or I’ve been to conferences or, you know, when we’ve got mental health awareness month and things like that, I get invited to come along and speak. And I suppose it’s just, just building my profile really, and think that, you know, even though they seem separate, they are all interconnected in some way, you know, the transcending trauma podcasts links into my private practice, which has somatic synergy.
So there’s my one-on-one work that I do. But then there’s the bigger picture in regards to my social enterprise and the charity, which is in Enveco health, which is, you know, it’s a major project because what I’m really pushing for and looking to do is to impact the service sector. It’s not just about developing another service. It’s actually pushing for change within the service sector as well. And that takes a lot of energy. It takes a lot of time and what we’re trying to do is something that’s extremely innovative in Australia. It’s never been done before. And that is about, you know, really making your Mark as an organization, but it’s, it’s everything that I’ve been building on for, for over 10 years now, looking at a lot of national and international research and really bringing in the cutting edge neuroscience in regards to helping people recover from mental health.
Yeah. And hopefully once we get the first site up and running, then we can look at that as a prototype, as a model, then we can roll that out across Australia, in different parts of Australia, if not nationally and internationally as well. So yeah, I suppose it’s just, I’m just following my passions and it’s, it’s something that I’m really passionate about and I like speaking about, so yeah, whether it’s podcasting or standing on stage or, you know, presenting at a conference I really want to help people to recover from mental health issues and yeah. And, you know, I want the right of suicide to go down, you know, and not go up. And, yeah. So I suppose it’s just, it’s, it’s just a culmination of, of what’s happened over my career really, and just having a voice and speaking about it.
Miko Santos: So do you have any final advice or anything else you want to share with fellow entrepreneurs, business owners and people, or is thinking of starting up their own business because of the pandemic they’re going to try something else.
Moniquea Spiteri: Yeah. I think, you know, especially with what’s happened with the pandemic, I think businesses have had to think differently. You’ve got to really, you’ve got to think on your feet, you’ve got to think about, you know, if you’ve got an established business, how you can adjust, you know, if you don’t, don’t be afraid of change. And I think that’s where some businesses fail is that they don’t want to adapt to what’s happening. You got to gotta be able to adapt. You’ve gotta be able to change a business model if you can, for anybody that’s going into startup that wants to become an entrepreneur. It’s, you’ve got to have some grit. Yeah. I think grit is something definitely you’ve got to have. It’s, it’s wonderful to have ideas and concepts and things like that, but you really need to be able to, to sometimes be in it for the long haul.
Yeah. And sometimes you are working away at things as a labor of love for a very, very long time. And it can be a really lonely journey. Sometimes it can be really isolating, you know, when you’re trying to do a startup in a tech startups, you know, they’re a little bit different, they get a lot of funding, but if you’re trying to do a service-based startup or, you know, any startup, it can be a really isolating. So always get support, you know, look at networking or startup, you know, business networking group, whether it’s a business women in business networking group, or just a startup networking group, there’s a lot of them that pop up. You really do need to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs that are going through what you’re going through. Burnout for entrepreneurs is really high. Mental health. Yeah. And stress can be really high for people that are in startup and find yourself really good mentors.
You know, there’s people that are out there that have done it before you, if you can find yourself a really good business mentor or a handful of business mentors they’re worth their weight in gold, that you can just pick up the phone sometimes and just bounce something off. That way you don’t feel like you’re doing it all on your own. So, you know, I’ve been really lucky throughout my career. And also just while I’ve been setting up a social enterprise, LinkedIn is fantastic, you know, get yourself on LinkedIn. There’s really good support networks through there. And yeah. Reach out to people because there are some really fantastic business people out there that are willing to donate their time. Some people will do it, you know, just check their LinkedIn profiles and things like that. And just ask, you know, I’ve, I’ve learned over the years, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, you know, what, what is it a 50, 50 chance they’ll either say yes or they’ll say no. And sometimes I’ve just had the most quickest, you know, 20 minute conversations with somebody. I didn’t expect to take my call and they did. And those 20 minutes of gold, you know, and you ask as many questions as you can and, and get that feedback and that guidance and yeah. Get as much support as you can and keep going, give it a crack.
Miko Santos: Thank you so much. Any parting words to the listener before we wrap up the podcast today?
Moniquea Spiteri: No. I think it’s been good. I’ve yeah, I’ve supplied you with my eight self-care tips pdf which, you know, you can and Share with your listeners. Yeah, but it’s been really good and it’s been a really good opportunity to come on. So thank you very much.
Miko Santos: Thank you so much, Moniquea And thank you. So this is another episode again, of tried podcasts under AusPod syndicate. And of course, thank you to my sponsor is KangarooFern Media Lab. It’s a podcast management service. So if you want to launch your own podcast or you want someone to manage your podcast, just go to their website at www.kangaroofern.com.
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