Help me take the next step

I’d like your help to take the next step in my mental health journey.

I’ve been writing and tweeting about mental health for years. Always from a mixed perspective, partly from my training in health promotion and partly as a person living with mental illness.

Sometimes, I talk about the self-care strategies that have worked for me; other times, how stigmatising discourses and service gaps limit the life chances of people with mental illness. But I’ve never made any move to formalise my status in the mental health advocacy ‘space.’ Until now, I was never sure how I could make a meaningful contribution.

I think I’ve found that role.

In my travels (and travails) as a postgraduate student, I meet academics and research training staff who feel very uncertain supporting students who may be facing mental health issues.

I see a lot of effort put into promoting mental wellbeing — particularly self-care and stress reduction — leaving mental illness as the elephant in the room. Simply listing the number for Lifeline, or the student counselling service, isn’t enough.

This is personal. During the second year of my PhD, I self-referred for an assessment that revealed a serious and permanent mental health condition.

That was a painful revelation, because I’d been living with that condition for sixteen years. Just white-knuckling my way through life. There were many opportunities for diagnosis along the way, but I missed out—despite being highly motivated and health literate.

That’s where Mental Health First Aid comes in.

I did the Mental Health First Aid training in 2012 as part of my work in HIV prevention. It empowers people to follow up on the signs that someone is experiencing distress, and provides the knowledge and skills needed to make an effective referral. Sometimes, it takes another person to spot that you’re in deep waters and to throw you a lifeline.

With your support, I will complete the Mental Health First Aid instructor training in 2021, which will enable me to deliver MHFA training myself.

My goal is to empower people who support postgraduate students to recognise the signs that stress and distress may have tipped over into something requiring expert assistance.

The program costs $3,750 and takes five days face-to-face. Instructors must then deliver at least two training programs per year. I’m seeking donations via PayPal to undertake the training and offer my first two training programs for free. This will allow me to gain experience and to undertake consultation on the specific needs of HDR supervisors and research training staff.

Your donation will help me find my voice as an advocate and enable me to empower others to support postgrad students doing it tough.

Update Mon 15 Feb ’21

With your incredibly kind support, I have hit my target and donations are now closed. Thank you for your generosity and the trust you’ve placed in me. Over the coming weeks I’ll post updates as I start on that journey.

With much love and gratitude,

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