Changing the Way Australians See Mental Illness
2 December 2010 at 12:02 pm
A new initiative to reduce the misunderstanding and damaging stigma associated with mental illness in Australia has been unveiled.
SANE Australia, a Not for Profit organisation working with people affected by mental illness has launched 'Snapshots' – an initiative which aims to reduce this stigma by connecting people with people who are affected by mental illness.
|Diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at 19, Sally says she is excited to be a part of the Snapshots initiative because it it’s an opportunity to talk about life in a positive way.|
According to SANE Australia, Snapshots aims to make a difference by changing how people see those with a mental illness and how people with mental illness see themselves, by providing insight into their lives – their joys and passions, their struggles, frustrations and triumphs.
Snapshots uses interviews and photographs to reveal what it is like to experience mental illness from the inside and allows people with a mental illness to share their honest insights into recovery and the importance of connections with other people.
According to SANE Australia reducing stigma makes an important contribution to improving the lives of people with mental illness –from better understanding and support from politicians and decision-makers, through to changed attitudes from neighbours, workmates and others, and genuine inclusion in society.
Barbara Hocking, Executive Director of SANE Australia says information alone does not change attitudes towards mental illness and reduce stigma. She says it is personal contact that makes the real difference.
Hocking says that by meeting people who are affected, and hearing about their lives, can show that they are ordinary people who have been through tough times with their illness, and who have a right to the same respect as everyone else.
She says moves away from the inaccurate stereotypes and aims to provide hope and encouragement by demonstrating how people can live full active lives when managing mental illness.
Sally, one of the first participants in the project, stresses the importance of emotional support from others. She describes her mother as her ‘backbone’ and they speak to each other almost daily.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19, Sally spent several years in her words ‘sick – very sick’.
Now, with the right doctor and the right combination of medications, she hasn’t been hospitalised for several years, is loving her new job and enjoying everyday life with her partner.
Sally says she is excited to be a part of the Snapshots initiative because it it’s an opportunity to talk about life in a positive way.
To read more of Sally’s story, view the Snapshot’s website at www.sane.org/snapshots