16 December 2022

A new e-publication that privileges the voices of lived experience, including members of the Mind Australia community, is now available to read online. 

As part of Mental Health Week 2022 human rights advocate Simon Katterl in partnership with health news website Croakey.org produced the Speaking Our Minds series; a collection of articles written by people who have experienced, or been a carer for those experiencing, mental health and wellbeing concerns. 

Simon led this project because the vital perspectives of people with lived experiences can often by left out of the conversation when it comes to public mental health discourse. 

“Only by listening to the voices of lived experience will we be able to challenge the status quo and effect the dramatic changes needed to right our failing mental health systems,” Simon said. 

Cassi Strauss, a peer practitioner, contributed to the series with insights from working in Emergency Departments with Mind Australia to create a safe, lived-experience led alternative to hospitalisation for people who are dealing with mental health problems and diagnoses. 

“Through our own lived experience, peer practitioners can look beyond someone’s diagnosis and see the whole person. We are able to provide people with authentic, holistic support throughout their mental health journey,” Cassi said. 

“Peer practitioners are able to create a safe space where people can explore what they need to, without fear of judgement or consequence.”  

“Without proper understanding and acceptance of the peer workforce, lived experience will not be utilised to its fullest effect but, if done correctly, peer work will be the way forward for mental health support, providing a trustworthy pathway for people to access the support they want.” 

Mind Board Director Leilani Darwin, a proud Quandamooka woman, also shared her experiences of mental health discrimination and racial injustice within the mental health system

Leilani said these barriers, and a greater emphasis on culturally led and appropriate pathways, need to be addressed immediately otherwise future generations will continue to be negatively impacted within the mental health system. 

“Lived and living experiences need to be elevated and embedded not just in future responses, but also in ensuring that all aspects of mental health reform, policies and practices are built on these experiences,” Leilani said. 

“The lack of support and understanding is further exacerbated by our experiences of powerlessness and injustice, in ultimately just tirelessly working to keep our loved ones alive.” 

The full Speaking Our Minds e-publication can be downloaded here.  

If you would like more information, please contact us via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463. 

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples