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“For people living with a mental illness in Australia I would like to see that they are acknowledged, respected, and treated as equal. My son has schizophrenia, and I think he's the bravest person I know.”
How did your relationship with One Door start?
My son developed a mental illness in 2000 and I sought education around it because I knew nothing about mental illness, but what I did quickly realise was there was just very little to support people in Southwestern Sydney. So we got together to open a recovery centre, so that when people come out of in-patient mental health, that they had somewhere to go that would provide care. That's how I came to know about One Door, they were in line with our philosophy, and they could support our fundraising.
What drives you?
Unfairness drives me, really, I can't stand it. I can't stand the haves and the have-nots. I can't stand looking at the general hospital and looking at what they're doing in mental health, these individuals are forgotten about. It drives me that people think mental illness is frightening, or scary, or people who are second class. They're not. They've just got an illness. They might act differently, but different should be accepted because it provides the variety we need in our lives. I like variety.
What advice do you have for someone with a mental illness?
Seek help immediately. And if when you seek help, your GP or whoever you seek help from doesn't seem to know a great deal about mental health, go elsewhere straightaway. Don't muck around. The earlier the intervention, the more chance you have of a full recovery. I think stigma has gone down a bit, and I think organisations like One Door are so inclusive and so terrific, and they're doing absolutely fabulous work.