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The reality of stigma surrounding mental health issues – Q&A with Jenni.

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Meet Jenni.

The reality of stigma surrounding mental health issues – Q&A with Jenni.

Jenni is a creative, positive person who believes that “the glass is always half full.” She enjoys sharing her mental health journey with professionals, carers, the general public and with others who have a lived experience of mental health issues.


Jenni is a SANE Australia Peer Ambassador. She has lived with a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder for over 20 years. Schizo-affective disorder is a mental health condition marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.

In this Q&A guest blog, Jenni shares some of her experiences about the everyday impact of stigma surrounding mental health issues and why she feels so strongly about changing attitudes and educating others about complex mental health issues.

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What is the National Stigma Report Card?

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We are delighted to announce the launch of findings from the National Stigma Report Card, the most comprehensive research of its kind in Australia. 

As you may be aware, SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre, in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences and with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, invited people living with complex mental health issues to participate in the Our Turn to Speak survey.

Our Turn to Speak was the first survey of its kind in Australia that sought to comprehensively understand the experiences of people living with complex mental health issues, and how they are affected by stigma and discrimination.

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Media reporting on mental illness, violence and crime needs to change

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The media is a key source of information about mental illness for the public, and research shows media coverage can influence public attitudes and perceptions of mental ill-health.

But when it comes to complex mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia, media coverage tends to emphasise negative aspects, often choosing to focus on portrayals of violence, unpredictability and danger to others.

These portrayals can give an exaggerated impression of the actual rate at which violent incidents occur. In reality, such incidents are rare and are often better accounted for by other factors.

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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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Standing on the outside looking in

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I've just received an email from a former colleague, telling me what she said in a referee statement. 

'I talked about the value you add to a team through creative thinking and said you are that rare person who combines exceptional creativity with solid administration skills. I told them they'd be very lucky to have you'

By the time I've finished reading, I'm sobbing.

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What's the biggest challenge people with mental illness face?

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What's the biggest day-to-day challenge people living with mental illness experience?

We asked 10 SANE Peer Ambassadors for the biggest challenge, fear or obstacle they face.

And they said their biggest challenge is . . .

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What not to say to someone with a complex mental health issue.

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It's a sad reality that people living with a complex mental health issue will hear inappropriate comments, sometimes at a time when they are struggling.

A glib, flippant or offhand comment – whether born of ignorance, awkwardness, or arrogance – can cut to the bone and leave people questioning their place in the world.

So, what's the worst thing you can say to someone living with a complex mental health issue? 

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