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Visible: How art has helped me express my mental health story

Jess-Revens

For many young people, the transition to adulthood can be uncertain and overwhelming. Add to that a feeling of isolation and disconnection, and it’s no surprise this is the time where people are most likely to face mental health challenges. 

SANE Australia Peer Ambassador Jess has recently co-designed a new project called Visible.

Visible is a creative collaboration between young Australians experiencing mental health challenges, and artists. These partnerships have produced an insightful collection of creative expressions that share the real experiences of mental health challenges faced by young people. The aim is to change how mental health is seen and spoken about across Australia, and create a culture that’s more accepting and understanding. 


Here's what Jess had to say about the project:

"My Visible expression tells the story of the long-term impacts of childhood trauma and adversity. More specifically, it tells the story of the events leading to my suicide attempt and how a chance encounter after the fact changed my life and the way I relate to my complex mental illness forever. 

By and large, the highlight of Visible for me has been working with my artist and collaborator, Anna. Anna and I are great buddies now and support each other's artistic endeavours and growth. I will always be grateful to Visible for bringing Anna's kind, and very authentic energy into my life. She told my story with such richness and consideration. I don't think I have ever felt more seen, heard or held by another person in my life. 

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Caring for yourself and others during COVID

You are not alone

In SANE's COVID mental health series, 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.

What a start to 2020. As we all came together as a community and attempted to deal with the fallout of the bushfire crisis, none of us could have foreseen that there was another huge challenge looming on the horizon. 

The COVID crisis is unprecedented. And it’s confusing and worrying for all of us – causing increased stress, anxiety and fear in many.

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The effects of bushfires on those living with complex mental health issues

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The constant smoke haze and news reports serve as a reminder of the bushfires that still burn across Australia. Exposure to details and graphic images relating to the fires can be extremely distressing and can have a negative affect on our mental health.

The effects of such devastating events can be even more profound for vulnerable people within our communities, such as those living with complex mental health issues. People living with a mental health issue may find their symptoms return or become more intense during this time. For example, someone living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might find that graphic images trigger flashbacks to their own trauma.

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The mental health impacts of Australia's bushfire crisis

Firefighters

For people with a history of trauma, the world can feel like an unsafe place. As bushfires burn across Australia, these feelings can intensify.

The mental health impacts of traumatic events like the bushfire crisis can be huge, and long lasting. For people on the front lines, fighting fires or fleeing their homes, the danger is real and visceral. But for those further removed geographically from the fires, breathing smokey air and reading harrowing media reports can also be extremely distressing and triggering.

Everyone in Australia needs mental health support during this difficult time, and we've already seen many heartwarming examples of people looking out for each other, in the spirit of mateship.

But we must also remember that the impacts of this crisis will ripple out far beyond this moment. We need robust mental health support to be available not just during an emergency, but also well into the future.

For people with a history of trauma or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this is particularly important. These people can be incredibly resilient in times of crisis, and often step in to help others in need. But after the worst is over, the delayed impact on them can be significant.

SANE Australia is committed to supporting people navigate the lasting impacts of the bushfire crisis and other traumatic events. 

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Coping with flashbacks

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Remembering the past is important. It defines who we are. But sometimes the process of storing an experience as a memory can go awry.

These memory disturbances can present later in life where the event is relived in the form of a flashback.

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