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“I've learnt so much from being involved and have become a lot more confident, and made a lot of friends. My mum has had the most amazing life; she's sick, but that doesn't make her any less valuable.”
How did you get involved with On Fire?
I got involved through my mum; she was talking about her struggle with mental illness and someone suggested On Fire, advising there were all these free programs and that they would like to help out. I was really struggling at the time, I wasn't really leaving the house much because I didn't really feel like doing anything and mum suggested I go join the program, as a good way to get out there. Everyone made a real effort to make me feel included and I wasn't being ignored or anything.
What has being involved with the program done for you?
It's done so much, I learned so much about taking care of myself. I was really struggling with social anxiety, I don't really know how to make friends that well, even though I loved being with people. Being with a group of people that just wanted to be with me, it really helped with my confidence. I learned a lot more skills and had the opportunity to speak in front of people. I feel so much more confident because of the program.
What's your vision for the future of mental health care in Australia?
I still see heaps of stigma and I don't really know a lot of people that properly understand mental health. I was talking with one of my friends the other day and she's talking about how she saw these people in the street mumbling to themselves and she described them as ‘crazy’, If I saw someone like that, I wouldn’t be scared of them at all because I know that they could be schizophrenic or they have some sort of mental illness but that it’s nothing to be afraid of. When you see that they're just ill, you know that it's not that dangerous. I think my main vision would be for that kind of understanding.