26-04-2018 01:18 PM
Hi everyone and welcome to our new feature: Service Spotlight!
This feature will be highlighting a member of staff here at SANE Australia and the program they run. You will see this feature come up every three months.
This will be set up as a Q&A giving members the opportunity to ask any questions about a program featured and respond to a question that is put out to the community by the program lead.
Below you will see a few interview questions to give you a bit of information and background on the particular program.
You can post your question at any time and answers will be provided from Monday
To kick off this new feature we have @NatR - I’ll let her introduce herself!
Who am I and what is my role?
My name is Natalie and I am the Lived Experience Coordinator at SANE. I manage and support all our Peer Ambassadors who are passionate about sharing their personal experiences of complex mental illness on behalf of and for SANE Australia, as well as others affected by complex mental illness.
A bit about my program
The Peer Ambassador Program (which has only just relaunched from the former SANE Speakers Program) supports a group of people (both those with lived experience and carers) who work with SANE Australia to raise awareness, reduce stigma and provide hope to Australians affected by complex mental illness.
All Peer Ambassadors receive training and support, guiding them through the process of sharing their story in ways that align with their reason for becoming an ambassador. They contribute their unique voice and authentic perspective to SANE’s work by speaking at public or workplace events, and engaging with corporate, government and non-government organisations, the media and broader community.
Participants are also regularly invited to help develop, deliver and evaluate SANE’s programs and services, contribute to advocacy and research projects, review resources and provide their insights through co-design or research projects.
What’s coming up in the Program?
As we have just relaunched the Program, we will be spending the next month recruiting and screening up to 40 new Peer Ambassadors from across Australia. I will then be facilitating two- day capacity building workshops in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth from May – November. It’s going to be a very busy but extremely rewarding and inspiring year
A question I have for the community:
For the benefit of the training we will be delivering for this program, we want to cover how to handle challenges that may arise when a peer ambassador shares their story of complex mental illness, particularly for the first time (as someone with lived experience or a carer).
With this in mind do you have any tips or ideas that may help us support new Peer Ambassadors around challenges you have either faced, or anticipate facing in sharing your own story?
01-05-2018 11:22 AM
01-05-2018 02:15 PM
Hello @Darcy - these are such incredibly helpful insights! Thank you so much for sharing.
I would like to introduce the concept of pre empting questions beforehand for my briefing with community organisations, so that Peer Ambassadors can be better prepared in advance. Of course, this isn't always possible but being able to explore topics and areas of interest beforehand is definitely something to think about.
I really like your points around always seeing someone's question in a compassionate way - we often go on the defensive quite quickly and a different approach can achieve more helpful results. People ask questions for a reason and often these are rooted in misunderstandings or common stigmas. People dont intend to be rude or disrespectful, even though it can come across in this way. Subsequently, as you so rightly acknowledged, sharing the content of our journey is just as important as answering the questions as they both provide powerful opportunities to educate and raise awareness around the facts.
Likewise, I also believe authenticity is cruical. People may hear our stories at all different types of stages in their own journey and the reality is that challenge can emerge and re emerge; this must be shared honestly because as you say, it's what people connect with - the vulnerability.
Thank you so much once again for taking the time to share some of your experiences!
01-05-2018 02:41 PM
01-05-2018 03:16 PM
This is a good point - as we will be training both experienced Peer Ambassadors and those just about to start the journey, those more experienced will be able to share questions they have received and tackled.
01-05-2018 03:48 PM
I agree with what @Darcy said ---- As a carer another thing I have found helpful is not glossing over some of the challenges which are just plain hard. When people know that you have experienced certain things in common with them they find connection and perhaps a little light will shine into their darkness and they will hopefully be inspired work on things to improve their own well-being.
Also too in new members introductions and their story , it is good to look for the question they are really asking
03-05-2018 05:26 PM
as a carer and a wife of a husband who had Mi @NatR
03-05-2018 08:55 AM
@Shaz51I totally agree with you. It's so important to present a balanced journey - as much as we need hope to inspire us to continue, we also need to feel that our most vulnerable moments and times of challenge havent been experienced in isolation either; people need to hear both - it's just about communicating that vulnerability in a safe way.
I think the point about the questions they are really asking is vital. Often people are communicating something through a question - a belief or understanding, and if we can identify this, our answer can be even more effective Thank you so much @Shaz51!
03-05-2018 04:05 PM
A very brief note to thank all of you who have participated so insightfully in this thread and for creating such a positive forum experience for me. You've really given me a sound understanding of some of the concerns around sharing, especially for the first time, and I have taken on board lots of great points to take into the training.
Have a wonderful weekend,
If you need urgent assistance, see Need help now
For mental health information, guidance and referrals, see the SANE Help Centre
SANE Forums is published by SANE Australia with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health
SANE Australia ABN 92006533606
PO Box 226 South Melbourne 3205 Australia