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“It was through an environment that enabled him, safely, to discover who he was, that people could understand his mental illness, and accept it.
What is your vision for the future of mental health care in Australia?
The community increasingly understands that illness is illness - and people with a mental illness are people who, in this case, have depression or something, in the same way they might have a broken leg. That in many instances, they can recover and their self-esteem can be redeveloped through effective engagement and support, in a nurturing environment. We need to understand, recognise, and accept that mental illness is part of our community.
What has struck you most about working with One Door?
About two or three years ago, when I first went to an international conference through the Clubhouse organisation, I was listening to a guy who'd become afflicted with schizophrenia, and it destroyed him. I remember him saying "I'll never be what I was, but I am who I am, and I've never been happier." That just gets me, it gets me right there. It was through an environment that enabled him, safely, to discover who he was, that people could understand his mental illness, and accept it.
What is one thing you’d like to share about mental illness?
We're all unique. We all have strengths, and weaknesses. Those people with a mental illness should not be branded as mentally ill, but as people with one of those things that can afflict anyone. And above all, they continue to be human beings as part of a community, and a society, where everyone depends on everyone else, and can give back to other people, if they're allowed to.
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