VOICES FOR CHANGE, BRISBANE
Lived Experience Speakers - Mental Health Recovery
The journey towards recovery is rewarding. My name is Michael and I live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and have mild Aspergers Syndrome. A series of issues over a decade contributed to my diagnosis. I began a journey of recovery when I joined an organisation that ran non-clinical activities. I worked with those living with mental health concerns and saw, and experienced, the difficulties of self and societal stigmas attached to a diagnosis. Those living with mental illness face housing, health and education issues, and experience social isolation, which can contribute to not being able to obtain employment. However, many also do not get the support they need in the workplace, facing discrimination and stigma, and trying to manage often competitive, stressful modern work environments.
Workplaces of the present and future value diversity in ageing, gender and physical disability; it is time for those living with mental health issues to be fully included. Those who manage and work with those living with mental illness need to understand the self and societal stigma that hinders obtaining work but also progressing in the workplace. Because of this, I welcome the opportunity to present to, and work with, employers and professional groups to foster understanding of mental health issues in the workplace. My main interests are stigma reduction, impacts on career and income attainment, social isolation and coping strategies in the workplace and how to manage the process of applying for employment, which I have done for people I have worked for, which can be very stressful.
My experiences can inform professionals and managers about the issues faced by those living with mental illness. I am able to present as a speaker, in panels, question and answer sessions, group facilitation and conferences. The commitment I give is to share my story and advocate for those who need to, or want to, have a career and contributed to their, the employer’s and Australia’s economic progress. In turn, the sense of social inclusion and self-worth can be greatly improved by workplace participation; it needs an understanding and flexible workplace to foster this.