With the increase in my lived experience roles (that I spoke about in my last an update, of sorts post) has come an increase in opportunity to influence how people understand the experience of mental health issues and how we could, how we should and how we need to respond here in South Australia.

This post is a summary of the change that I am advocating, activating and agitating for. It is based on a presentation that I recently gave to key government department executives.



Core assumptions and beliefs I hold:


-> listening to the voice of lived experience, in it’s diversity, is essential

-> including people with lived experience needs to happen at all stages of the reform agenda. This includes at points of visioning, implementation planning, servicing and evaluation


-> everyone, yes everyone, is impacted – in some way – by mental health issues, whether they are aware of it or not


-> the ‘cost’ of mental health issues is greater than any financial or economic analysis will ever capture and we need to get real about these broader costs, including to the individuals and families that struggle

-> as well as losses there can be, and frequently are, gains and benefits of mental health issues for individuals and broader society

-> even when people recover and heal from their mental health issues, or discover their way for living well despite, there may be enduring losses

-> whilst financial and economic analyses do little to capture the true cost of mental health issues they also do not detail the various types of investment that happens with the people through relationships and belief



The change that I seek:


-> acknowledges the ‘cost’ to systems, the state and families as well as to people living with mental health issues

-> leads our state to be systemically and socially altered forever


-> understands the complexity of mental health issues. That it is never about being good mentally or bad mentally, well or ill. That it can be both and everything or nothing all at once


-> reduces blame and shame for people who struggle

-> leaves people knowing that they are, we are, ok no matter what

-> recognises that people can, and do, recover and heal and live well despite



What this change looks like in practice:


-> a more open and expansive conversation about how we live well

-> trauma-informed systems and services with trauma-aware staff and helpers

-> recovery-focused supports and ways of being that is defined by and meaningful for individuals themselves

-> people’s dignity is at the centre of every decision

-> a committment to the whole-of-us

-> recognising that mental health issues are often the result of other life experiences, such as trauma or poverty, and adjusting systems and supports as well as the ways they function together to change the incidence and course of these experiences and circumstances over time



Some people may call me idealistic or suggest that I am over stating my level of influence. I don’t believe I am.


I have been in this field for seventeen professional years and over thirty life years.


I have insight that I couple with hope and optimism, not naivety. I have a vision that whilst open to the possibility of a new way is grounded in knowing that systems take a long time to change.

I can’t see problems with the way we talk about and ‘do’ mental health or have ideas for what could make a difference and not speak up.


It is in the living of advocating and activating that I recover, heal and continue to live well. It is in this agitating that minds alter, examples are set and ripples of change happen.


For even one person to be positively impacted … it is ALL worth it.


… with heart,