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‘Finding our way’: a mum and son navigate the path to recovery together

Marg and Mark sitting together outdoors smiling at the camera, Marg has her hand resting on Mark's shoulder

Marg was there when her son Mark had his first episode of psychosis five years ago, and has been part of his support network ever since. Mark’s road to recovery has meant building a new life for himself, and supporting others impacted by mental health issues.  

In celebration of Mother’s Day, here Marg and Mark share things they’ve learnt along the way, the importance of empathy and the need to support carers in their journeys too. 

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Caring for yourself and others during COVID

You are not alone

In SANE's COVID mental health series, SANE counsellor Tanya talks about the pandemic's impact on people living with complex mental health issues. She shares her tips on how to care for ourselves and others.

The COVID crisis is an unprecedented challenge for all of us. And if you're finding it confusing and worrying, you're not alone – it has caused increased stress, anxiety and fear for many.

For people already living with complex mental health issues, the impact of a pandemic like this can be significant.   

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Brisbane boy hosts 24 hour fundraising climb after brother's struggle with OCD

Rohan climbing
Rohan climbing group

What were you doing in Year 12?

Brisbane student Rohan is putting all of our teenage selves to shame by organising an ambitious fundraiser for SANE Australia, with a goal of raising $5000.

"I decided to run a 24 hour climb-a-thon at Kangaroo Point cliffs with a team of 12 climbers" he says.

"The reason I chose this is because my older brother has struggled with anxiety and OCD for many years, which also led to a period of addiction to a medically prescribed drug. I have seen first hand the impact of this on the individual, their family and friends and know how important it is for so much more research to be done to support mental health awareness and issues. I found SANE Australia and like the work they are doing, so I decided to make a difference through supporting them."

Rohan (second from left) and a group of climbing friends

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Avoiding Carer Burnout

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Burnout and compassion fatigue are terms carers regularly hear when caring for someone with a mental illness.

There is no doubt that caring for someone can be a demanding, stressful and exhausting role. It's also common to be told to look after yourself and prevent burnout. But, at times it can be difficult to know when we are feeling normal pressures or when it’s something more.

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Five ways to reduce stigma in the workplace

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Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. It can occur due to misunderstanding as well as prejudice. For people living with mental illness, stigma can lead to a lack of support or compassion, leaving them feeling misunderstood and marginalised.   Stigma is sadly prevalent in the workplace. Many workers are r...
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Why diagnosing at a distance doesn’t help (and what to do instead)

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When it comes to mental health, we all tend to diagnose people from a distance from time to time. It doesn't necessarily come from a bad place. Sometimes it comes from a place of curiosity, empathy, or thinking you can help another human being out by sharing what you've observed about their behaviour. After all, it can be hard to speak up about men...
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What you need to know about relapse in bipolar disorder

david-marcu-unsplash-1700x115_20180913-042550_1 Bipolar affects more people than you think.

Bipolar disorder causes people to experience intense mood swings – from manic highs to depressive lows. Not everyone experiences bipolar the same way, however, it is estimated that at least 75 per cent of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder will relapse, even when following a treatment plan. 

In bipolar disorder, a relapse is defined as the return of depression or a manic or hypomanic episode after a period of wellness. Sometimes it is possible to predict a relapse; often it is not. For many, the onset of a relapse seems to come out of the blue.

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Feeling excluded from a loved one’s recovery journey

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Experiencing a sense of helplessness can be a common experience for people supporting a loved one with a mental illness. It's natural to be alarmed by what's happening to your loved one and concerned about your capacity to support them.

This sense of helplessness can be exacerbated if you feel excluded from your loved one's recovery journey or unable to connect with them. Mental illness – no matter how severe or mild – can play havoc with a person's thinking, feelings and behaviour. It can cause distress and difficulty in functioning, and lead people to distance or detach themselves from their support network.

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What's in a name? Carer, supporter or something else?

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'I never considered myself to be a carer until another parent of a young person with a mental illness told me that I was eligible for a carer's allowance.

'At that moment I realised that what I was doing for my son was beyond normal mothering. Despite not pursuing the carer's allowance, I felt good about the fact that my efforts were worthy of recognition.'

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Navigating the system

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As a mother and carer of a son with mental illness, I've spent years traversing the system seeking care and support.

Over the years I've tackled education, health care, family and community services, human resources and at times the legal system.

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