Skip to main content

"Lived experience cannot be gleaned from a book, it is a visceral knowledge."

People talking about mental health

"Nothing about us, without us" is a common request among people living with complex mental health issues. But all too often, systems and processes are designed without partnering with people with lived experience.

Ahead of a recent event hosted by the Parliamentary Friends of Mental Health, we asked our SANE Ambassadors three key questions about the mental health system in Australia - and let politicians in Canberra know what they said. Here* are some of their answers ...

Question 1: What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in accessing formal support (i.e. from a health professional or community service) for your experience of complex mental health issues?

"The biggest one for me has been the financial challenges of accessing formal support. There is very little low-cost/no-cost accessible support for adults of the age of 25 with complex mental health issues. A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where I needed to leave full-time employment to focus on my mental health. This left me with a significant decrease in income, having gone from a full-time paycheck to unemployment benefits. My parents were not in a position to support me financially, and often my need for formal support was a lower priority to everyday living expenses such as rent, bills, food etc."

"Aged mental health is an issue I now face. Public facilities for those with a mental illness, and who are aging, are grim. They don't have rehabilitation as their goal and tend to see people through a negative lens. Older people with a chronic mental illness are not sexy, don't garner as much attention as young folk and are perceived as a nuisance."

"This is a very interesting question to me as I think the challenges can vary so dramatically depending on your life situation. I am in the very privileged position of having financial security, a supportive partner and network and even at my most unwell I am articulate and able to communicate my needs, opinions, etc. (except for a few episodes). And even I have found it challenging to find the right service or service provider.

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
3

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

family-pixabay-850x575

'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.'

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
9

My lightbulb moment

lightbulb-unsplash-850x575

When I was in high school I visited my brother at university. I remember reading a sign that said, 'Feeling homesick? Feeling lonely?' and listed support services.

In my naivety I asked, 'How can you feel alone when you are surrounded by people?' Little did I know, three years later I would find out.

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
14

How you can help if I'm struggling

bed-bedroom-blanket

It can be daunting when someone you know isn't quite right or is struggling with their mental health.

They may be experiencing mania, paranoia, anxiety, depression or any other symptom of mental illness. It's a distressing time for all involved.

A big question we're often asked by friends, family and supporters is, 'How can I help?'

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
12

A day in the life of the SANE Help Centre

day-in-the-life-SHC-850x575

The staff who answer the phones at mental health hotlines are at the coalface of the industry, working directly to help people in crisis. 

SANE followed a typical day in our Help Centre, which offers 12,000 hours of free specialist support every year for people affected by complex mental illness.

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
4

What not to say to someone with a mental illness

what-not-to-say-v2-850x575

It's a sad reality that people living with mental illness 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 mental illness? 

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
28

Supporting someone having thoughts of suicide

Supporting someone having thoughts of suicide

Are you concerned someone you know is having thoughts of suicide? This can be a very distressing situation, as many people don’t know how to help.

It's common for people to think that talking about suicide increases the risk. This is not the case. This myth can stop important discussions from taking place.

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
12

Five important lessons from people who have attempted suicide

Five important lessons from people who have attempted suicide

Last year I had the privilege of interviewing 31 people who had attempted suicide.

We talked about a range of issues, including the triggers that led them to feeling suicidal, support received (both helpful and unhelpful), the challenge of talking with others about their experience, and the progress they had made developing coping skills.

These interviews were the basis of Lessons for Life, a research report that highlights what helps and hinders people who attempt suicide. Throughout the process participants shared their invaluable insights into areas of critical importance, these included . . .

Read more >>
Rate this blog:
8

Popular blogs

Follow the blog