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Get Real: Talking mental health & disability
53 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Episode 34: Next to Normal – the ground-breaking musical exploring mental illness
A musical may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a way to convey the experiences of mental illness and how people cope in a crisis. However, in this episode of GET REAL we speak to two people who will be bringing to the stage a rock musical that’s been described as “an unflinching look at a suburban family struggling with the effects of mental illness”. The show centres around a mother who is traumatised by loss and the unpredictable effects sparked by her bipolar diagnosis. Our guests are director Mark Taylor and actress Queenie van de Zandt who talk about their upcoming production of Next to Normal in Melbourne. Next to Normal is a Tony Award-winning musical that debuted on Broadway in 2009. Since then the production has been staged around the world and was also awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010. As we recorded this episode, Melbourne was in a snap lockdown due to COVID-19 transmissions and Mark and Queenie also talk about the impact the pandemic has had on the arts and how they’ve been taking care of their own mental health. Next to Normal runs at Chapel Off Chapel Theatre in Melbourne from 15 July to 25 July 2021 https://chapeloffchapel.com.au/show/next-to-normal/ CONTENT NOTE: If you’ve been affected by anything you’ve heard in this episode you can phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or go to www.lifeline.org.au ermha365 provides a range of mental health services designed to help people experiencing mental health challenges to thrive in the community.
52 minutes | May 26, 2021
Episode 33: Lived Experience, Part 8: Parenting my transgender child
For this episode of GET REAL, we are joined by Ray Blessing who shares his experience of parenting his transgender son Oisin. It’s an honest and touching conversation about the journey Ray and his family have travelled as they supported Oisin through his transition, and the additional aspects of mental health and addiction that have been part of this journey.Ray speaks compassionately and candidly about the struggles, the joys and the ongoing learnings the family has experienced. He also acknowledges that while the Blessing family received support from their network when they told them about Oisin’s transition, he knows this isn’t the case for all families. Ray also talks about the need for more holistic support from schools for children and their families who are experiencing challenges, not only academically but socially and emotionally.And he asks an important question: “How do you wrap support around a family when there’s a struggling child?”.It’s a question that’s not only applicable for people with a transgender child, but for all families who have a child who is struggling in areas of their lives.For another perspective on this important topic, and if you missed it, check out last fortnight’s episode with Lauren McGovern talking about growing up trans in Tasmania in the 1980s and ‘90s; the trauma imposed by decades of being someone other than who she really was inside; and her joy at coming out as trans at the age of 45.Content note: If you have been affected by anything discussed in this podcast you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.For mental health support, go to https://www.ermha.org/mental-health-services/
48 minutes | May 11, 2021
Episode 32: Lived Experience, Part 7: Lauren McGovern - transgender & mental health
In this honest, raw and illuminating episode of GET REAL, we are joined by Lauren McGovern, who shares her experience of being a transgender woman in Australia, her hopes for the future, and how allies can better support trans people with their mental health.Lauren grew up in Tasmania, where LGBT rights were a bitterly divisive issue for decades. Although things have changed since then, Tasmania imposed the harshest penalties in the Western world for homosexual activity until 1997; fellow Tasmanian Hannah Gadsby has called it “a really harmful and horrible place to grow up in the closet”.Being trans can unfortunately predispose a person to a higher level of mental health challenges and distress, due to the emotional pain that can come with transitioning and/or continuing to live with gender dysphoria. This pain can lead to depression and anxiety, and it is these mental illnesses that are the problem – not, in itself, being trans.In today’s episode, Lauren speaks honestly and openly about her experiences of growing up trans in Tasmania in the 1980s and ‘90s; the trauma imposed by decades of being someone other than who she really was inside; and her joy at coming out as trans at the age of 45. She also shares her grief at the loss of previously close relationships with her four children - who have not found her transition easy - and speaks to her kids directly about her love for them, and her hopes that they will reconnect again some day. Lauren writes beautiful poetry about her mental health journey in her blog, Shortened by Anxiety, shared here with permission.Content note: this episode discusses suicide and suicide attempts. If you find any of this discussion distressing, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.Growing up and hating who looked at me from the mirror.Parents love, non-existent, left me feeling bitter.Knowing that each lap around the sun just made me fitter.I'm stronger than I ever was. Your hate won't make me wither. Lauren McGovernShortened by Anxiety (blog)
56 minutes | Apr 28, 2021
Episode 31: Reactions to the Mental Health Royal Commission
The findings of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System are something that will shape the future of mental health services, not just in Victoria but potentially across Australia. Every year around one in five Victorians experience mental health issues, and about 3 per cent of the population — roughly 200,000 people — have a "severe" mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.The final report from the royal commission has found that Victoria's mental health system operates in crisis mode, has "catastrophically failed to live up to expectations" and must be rebuilt.There are 65 recommendations outlined in the report (the Victorian Government says it will implement all of them) including the phasing out of seclusion and restraints treatments over the next decade, and making compulsory treatments an option of last resort.So, what’s next now that the report is on the table and the real work of implementing its recommendations is about to start?We invited Angus (Gus) Clelland, CEO Mental Health Victoria and VMIAC CEO Maggie Toko for their take on what the recommendations mean for mental health services - and the next steps. More information:Mental Health Victoria - https://www.mhvic.org.au/VMIAC - https://www.vmiac.org.au/Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System Final Report - https://finalreport.rcvmhs.vic.gov.au/VIDEO: Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System Final Report https://youtu.be/IvMWhvLff9Y
51 minutes | Apr 15, 2021
Episode 30: Creativity, disability and mental health - what’s the connection?
In this episode you will hear our special guest Sue Roff, Executive Director at Arts Project Australia and ermha365’s Georgia Symmons explore how the arts and creativity have the power to unleash potential, support recovery and inspire and challenge what is possible for people who are living with mental health conditions and disability.Arts Project Australia is a creative social enterprise that supports artists with intellectual disabilities through their studio and gallery, promoting their work and advocating for their inclusion in contemporary art practice. Here are the links to the exciting new initiatives mentioned in this episode:Satellite Arts is a remote program giving artists the opportunity to engage with the APA studio from any location in Australia. From Monday 19 April 2021, sessions run each Tuesday and Thursday on Zoom supported by professional staff artists. Artists in this program can expect to develop and critically reflect on their artistic practice, and engage with contemporary art communities via online exhibitions, studio and gallery visits, artist talks and curator presentations. Art.et.al is an inclusive, curated international art platform that commissions and presents collaborations between artists from supported studios, artist peers and arts professionals – elevating diverse voices and creative practices.Collingwood Yard is the new location of the Arts Project Australia gallery, previously in Northcote, in a freshly remodelled space in Melbourne’s inner north.For more on ermha365's mental health programs, including the new Hive program in Geelong, check out our website.
54 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Episode 29: Why are there so many people with disabilities in prison?
People with a disability are chronically over-represented in the criminal justice system in Australia, making up 29% of the prison population, despite being only 18% the general population.This is a situation that has to change, something that the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is hearing very clearly.Today Karenza Louis-Smith from ermha365 talks to Patrick McGee, national manager for policy, advocacy and research at the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, and Eileen Baldry AO, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity Diversity and Inclusion and Professor of Criminology at UNSW Sydney.We have only just scratched the surface of this very important topic – expect to hear more later this year.
54 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Episode 28: Lived Experience series (Part 6) - Susan Berg, The Girl Who Lived
In this powerful and moving episode of GET REAL, the first in our Lived Experience series for this year, we are joined by special guest Susan Berg. At 15, Susan Berg was the sole survivor of a boating accident that claimed the lives of her Mum, Dad and 16-year old brother, Bill. Suffering from survivor guilt, she delved into a miserable life of self-loathing, anxiety and despair. It took Susan decades to learn the tools to heal her heart and find peace and happiness within herself. In 2015 Susan’s autobiography "The Girl Who Lived", was published. Then in 2017, as part of her ongoing recovery journey - and after 14 months of intense training - she faced her 30-year crippling fear of water and swam the 1.2km Lorne Pier to Pub. Susan is now an ultra-marathon swimmer, training for a solo crossing of the English Channel!Susan is passionate about helping others overcome personal obstacles and has developed "Dare the Impossible", weekend getaways, retreats and workshops, providing people with the tools for resilience, and inspiring them to heal their lives and fulfil their dreams. Susan chats with Georgia Symmons - ermha365’s Victorian State Manager of Strategy and Service Transformation - about her life; her recovery; the challenges she has faced; and the ones she is looking forward to in the future.Susan also shares her thoughts on the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, in particular, the importance of infusing lived experience into every aspect of the mental health system, including the delivery of mental health services and responding to people in appropriate and effective ways.If you have found any of this discussion distressing, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.To learn more about Susan, her work, and her journey, please visit https://www.susanberg.com.au/For more about ermha365’s mental health programs and services, go to https://www.ermha.org/mental-health-services/
47 minutes | Mar 3, 2021
Episode 27: The outlook for people with a disability in 2021
2020 was a tough year all round. And for people with a disability, and those that support them, it was a year of constant stress and anxiety, scrambling to provide disability support safely, while PPE and specific guidance for the disability sector were often in short supply. Will 2021 be any better for people with a disability, and if so, how? Today, GET REAL listeners have the rare opportunity to be a fly on the wall of our ‘virtual boardroom’, as four CEOs of disability support and advocacy organisations come together to talk about the effects of repeated lockdowns, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and how last year’s challenges are accelerating new ways of delivering disability services.Karenza Louis-Smith, CEO of ermha365, moderates this CEO-to-CEO conversation with David Moody, CEO of National Disability Services (NDS), Australia's peak body for non-government disability service organisations; Phil Hayes-Brown, CEO of Wallara; and Stephanie Gunn, CEO of Gateways Support Services.
50 minutes | Feb 16, 2021
Episode 26: Homelessness - where we are, and what’s ahead
In our first GET REAL episode of 2021, we are delighted to talk to some very important people at ermha365, who do vital, often unseen work with people experiencing homelessness.At ermha365, we support people with complex needs related to mental health and disability. This sometimes means that the people we support struggle to maintain accommodation, or are homeless, or sleep rough outdoors. In this episode, GET REAL talks to Tim and Rosie, who work in our Community Connect program supporting people experiencing homelessness. Both Tim and Rosie, and our Pathways team, either won or were finalists in ermha365’s staff awards last year – for reasons that will become obvious once you hear about the outreach work they do every day, and continued to do at the even at the height of the pandemic lockdowns in Victoria.Tim and Rosie are joined by Georgia Symmons, our Victorian State Manager of Strategy and Service Transformation, who talks to us about the exciting new initiatives that are coming in the homelessness and housing space. This includes the Victorian Government’s From Homelessness to a Home program and the Big Housing Build, which will ensure that 2,000 more Victorians living with mental illness will soon have a home.
40 minutes | Feb 3, 2021
GET REAL Summer Series, Episode 5 – Peer Workers, lived experience and mental health recovery
Over summer, we’re revisiting some of our favourite GET REAL episodes of 2020. It’s February 2021, and not long now until we will see the final report from the Royal Commission into Mental Health in Victoria. The interim report, published in November last year, reflects the Commission’s desire to incorporate lived experience in all aspects of the mental health system, including the delivery of mental health services. In practice, this is likely to mean many more opportunities for peer support workers; people who help others with their mental health in part through their own, lived experience of mental health challenges. In this episode, Karenza Louis-Smith talks with Grace and Donna, who work at ermha365 as peer support workers. We hope you enjoy it.For more GET REAL episodes, go to https://www.ermha.org/get-real-podcast/
50 minutes | Jan 27, 2021
GET REAL Summer Series, Episode 4 – Housing for people with high complex needs
Over summer, we’re revisiting some of our favourite GET REAL episodes of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has made housing a hot-button issue for government. Since we recorded this episode, the Victorian government alone announced it is pumping $5.3 billion into building more than 12,000 social and affordable housing properties to boost Victoria’s housing supply. Our guests on this episode are movers and shakers in the housing advocacy space, who have been working to change the housing system for many years and achieve this result – among others yet to come. I hope you enjoy this robust discussion.For more GET REAL episodes, go to https://www.ermha.org/get-real-podcast/
45 minutes | Jan 20, 2021
GET REAL Summer Series, Episode 3 – Mental health, disability, and the criminal justice system
Over summer, we’re revisiting some of our favourite GET REAL episodes of 2020. People living with disabilities and mental health conditions are over-represented in the justice system, something we at ermha365 see in our work every day. In this, one of our most popular episodes, we ask why this happens, and talk about how we amplified these issues by taking them to the Royal Commission on Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Discrimination against People with Disabilities.For more GET REAL episodes, go to https://www.ermha.org/get-real-podcast/
71 minutes | Jan 13, 2021
GET REAL Summer Series, Episode 2 - Celebrating PARCs
Over summer, we’re revisiting some of our favourite GET REAL episodes of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified public interest in how we deliver mental health services and support. PARCs are a short-term, residential mental health treatment services located in the community that provide an essential recovery-oriented service. ermha365 has been managing PARCs for almost 15 years and during 2020, we ran two GET REAL episodes celebrating PARCS – there is a lot to celebrate — but this is a highlights episode, containing interviews with some of the many people who shape and stay at ermha365 PARCs. We hope you enjoy it.For more GET REAL episodes, go to https://www.ermha.org/get-real-podcast/
48 minutes | Jan 6, 2021
GET REAL Summer Series, Episode 1 – Caring for Carers
Over summer, we’re revisiting some of our favourite GET REAL episodes of 2020. Caring for Carers was our first episode, recorded in early 2020, and is still one of our favourites. In this episode, we talk to Lynn and SJ, both carers with lived experience, about what it’s really like to support someone with a complex mental health issue or a disability, and how we can better care for carers – especially during challenging times. We hope you enjoy it. For more GET REAL episodes, go to https://www.ermha.org/get-real-podcast/
52 minutes | Dec 22, 2020
Episode 20: From illness, to wellness, to recovery: Suicide Prevention
Ingrid Ozols battled mental illness and suicidal ideation. She has loved ones who have succeeded, and others who actively contemplate suicide. Ingrid not only continues on her wellness and recovery journey, but thrives as a national and global speaker on suicide prevention. Ingrid’s strength comes from willingness to share her vulnerability.
43 minutes | Dec 7, 2020
Episode 19: Invisible Disabilities
Not all disabilities are visible – in fact most aren’t! People with invisible disabilities face all the same barriers as people with obvious disabilities, but compounded by the lack of obvious impairment. Attitudinal barriers, in particular, are rife – with well-meaning members of the public interrogating people who don’t seem to have a disability (for example, are not in a wheelchair) about using a disabled parking space or toilet. Confronted like this, people with invisible disabilities are forced to declare their disability to total strangers, or argue their case – often in a public space. The humiliation often leads people to fear going out in public, resulting in isolation.To celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we invited Lynn Russell, CEO of Invisible Disabilities Australia and Sarah Bayley, Senior Manager, Complex Services at ermha365 to talk about the challenges faced by people with invisible disabilities, some solutions to help avoid the need for public declarations, and some tips on how we can all improve our behaviour around this issue.For more information:Invisible Disabilities Australia - https://www.invisibledisabilities.com.au/about/ermha365 NDIS services - https://www.ermha.org/ndis-services/This page of the ermha365 website also contains a short video with stories and statistics around the challenges of some types of invisible disabilities, including mental illness, traumatic brain injuries, autism, learning disability and intellectual disability, and five simple tips we can all follow to support people with invisible disabilities.
39 minutes | Nov 24, 2020
Episode 18: Lived Experience series (Part 5), Yvonne Sillett: The Power of Sharing Your Story in Mental Health Recovery from LGBTIQ+ discrimination
Discrimination, in all its forms, is unacceptable. People who discriminate, and the structures and systems that allow this to happen, must be called out. Discrimination causes people to lose their self-confidence, make them feel like outsiders – not part of the team; the anger that arises from being ‘othered’ can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts. In this fifth episode of our Lived Experience series, special guest Yvonne Sillett talks about the overt, systemic and intense discrimination she experienced as a lesbian woman in the Australian Army, which left her angry, depressed and at times suicidal. While significant reforms have occurred in the Army and society as a whole over the past two decades, LGBTIQ Victorians continue to experience inequalities. Of particular concern is data on increased rates of depression, psychological distress, self-harm and suicidal ideation. When compared with the rest of the population, LGBTIQ+ people are twice as likely to experience anxiety, and three times as likely to experience depression and related disorders, largely due to the inequalities they experience based on sexuality.Listen to how Yvonne coped, and how she became even more resilient. Hear how sharing her story not only helped others, but also helped her heal. Yvonne has also participated in two books: Serving in Silence! (which her story is in) and also the recently released titled Pride in Defence, both written by Noah Riseman and Shirleen Robinson. If you have found any of this discussion distressing, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.For additional mental health support go to: ermha365 - https://www.ermha.org/mental-health-services/ Lifeline: 13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au/SANE Forums - https://ermha.saneforums.org/
39 minutes | Nov 10, 2020
Episode 17: Lived Experience series (Part 4), Peer Workers and Mental Health Recovery
Peer workers with lived experience provide an important complement to the psychosocial support teams delivering mental health services. They improve the recovery orientation of mental health services, by offering genuine and authentic engagement with the people who use these services. This results in a reduction in hospital admissions and reduced load on other practitioners. For many people, peer workers with lived experience offer an improved experience of mental health treatment, care or support because they bring their own stories to their work. Their depth of understanding of the challenges of mental illness creates real empathy with clients, and also delivers unique insights to their co-workers who don’t have lived experience. Most importantly, peer workers with lived experience are role models for recovery. By sharing their journey of recovery, including strategies and techniques that sustain a balanced mental health, these role models exhibit positive, sustainable, and successful recovery. In this episode of GET REAL: Talking Mental Health and Disability, Karenza Louis-Smith talks with Grace and Donna who work at ermha365 as peer workers, with lived experience of mental health challenges. She is joined by Sharon Sherwood who leads all of ermha365’s mental health programs and services. As ‘Ambassadors’ of recovery, Grace and Donna talk about ‘owning’ their mental illness – the first step to reducing stigma. They also talk about getting the right kind of support that suits you; the value that peer workers bring because of their experience; and the great rewards they receive as peer workers by being able to helps others on the road to recovery. For mental health support go to:ermha365 - https://www.ermha.org/mental-health-services/SANE Forums - https://ermha.saneforums.org/
45 minutes | Oct 27, 2020
Episode 16: Lived Experience series (Part 3), Graeme Alford: Never Give Up
In the third conversation in our Lived Experience series, Karenza Louis-Smith talks to Graeme Alford: a lawyer, ex-prisoner, and author of the bestselling book Never Give Up – the power of mental toughness. Growing up in Melbourne, Graeme had the world at his feet. He went to private school, won a Commonwealth Scholarship, excelled at Melbourne University and breezed his way into a city law firm. But Graeme was a heavy punter and drinker, and it wasn’t long before he went from defending criminals – to being one. Jailed not once but three times, the last time for armed robbery, Graeme thought he’d game the prison psychological assessment to get a lighter sentence. Instead, he was shocked to discover he had acquired a significant cognitive impairment due to his excessive use of alcohol. So Graeme had a choice – give up or get up – and in this conversation he tells Karenza how he got up, and got his life back on track.Today Graeme is the Founder of 21Renew, a custom-designed wellness program for people with alcohol, drug or gambling issues, who are looking for an alternative to traditional rehabs.Graeme Alford – https://www.21renew.com/http://www.graemealford.com/ ermha365 complex mental health & disability - https://www.ermha.org/
41 minutes | Oct 13, 2020
Episode 15: Lived Experience series (Part 2), Steve Cain – Nothing Is Impossible
Imagine for a minute that you’re a young boy in the late ‘60s growing up in country Victoria. Yours is a typical childhood in many ways, but you are a little too fond of getting into trouble. On your twelfth birthday, you are made a Ward of the State and find yourself in Turana Youth Training Centre, starting your apprenticeship for a career of crime, drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness. What happens next? What kind of life will you have? And how do you survive and thrive from such a traumatic experience?This is the story of Steve Cain, our special guest in GET REAL’s second Lived Experience episode. This week, Steve talks to guest host Karenza Louis-Smith about how he embarked on a life as a career criminal at the tender age of 12, immersing himself in a world of drug taking and crime for the next 20 years, until at 35 he decided he wanted his life to be different. And so he set about changing the world – one person, one job, and one dollar at a time.Now the Founder and Program Facilitator at Empathy Not Sympathy, Steve describes his life journey as one that has gone from – in his own words – “the gutter to glory”, overcoming addiction issues and childhood trauma to help others see that in their own lives, nothing is impossible.For more information:ermha365 complex mental health & disability services – https://www.ermha.org/Steve Cain, Empathy Not Sympathy - http://empathynotsympathy.com.au/
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