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MIFSA LIFE MEMBER 2016

A surprised and delighted Maureen Lewis humbly accepted MIFSA Life Membership at this year's Annual General Meeting.Maureen has much experience with mental illness, and was living in Mount Gambier when her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the early 1990's. Frustrated by the lack of official public services and support, Maureen e...
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Volunteer for MIFSA

Volunteer Profile - Johno Jaensch "Volunteering gives me a sense of purpose and assists with my healing"With the contribution of dedicated volunteers, MIFSA is able to deliver and expand our full range of services while offering rewarding volunteering experiences in a safe and supportive environment. Johno Jaensch who volunteers his ti...
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Donate Today

​ We would like to share stories of discovery and growth from participants who enjoyed their camp experience, while increasing their confidence, capacity and self-esteem. "I was very excited to be able to go on this camp. I am 27 years old and have never been allowed to go on camp before, even when I was at school... It was great being able to...
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Bazinga Burlesque!

​Sadly, there are many people suffering with mental illness, who have little or no support. On Saturday 16 July at the Goodwood Institute, burlesque artists vied to represent South Australia in Miss Burlesque Australia. The competition allows performers to develop a brand and promote themselves at the same time as competing with their Australi...
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PEOPLE LIKE US ~ DARREN HUNT

I've lost a hold on reality, perhaps, a dozen times. While I've never been a danger to others, I have put my own life at risk. My scariest psychosis was when I was delusional and asked a friend to beat me up. That was the point my life began to unravel.My friend took me to the Emergency Department where security guards and nurses tackled me to the ...
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MIFSA Member Profile

After experiencing life on the streets, being involved with alcohol and drugs and living with schizophrenia, Kevin was referred to Glenside in 1985. This was a pivotal period in Kevin's life, which lead him to the discovery of the Schizophrenia Fellowship. Kevin has remained a member, and been volunteering at MIFSA ever since. Through Kevin's ...
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Wheels to Wellbeing

Ryan Rebbeck of Channel 7's House Rules has kindly endorsed our campaign as an ambassador to encourage schools to promote positive mental health through the Wheels to Wellbeing Campaign. "I would like you to consider helping those around you who like me (for a time) are hiding their issues." I am delighted to have the opportunity to encourage ...
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Reconciliation Week 2016 - Debbie's Story

Mannum MIFSA Activities Program visited Greenways landing for Reconciliation Week, a very special place for Debbie. I moved to Mannum in 1968My father was born under the willow tree on the other side of the river to Greenway Landing, Nildottie. The family lived in a house with bag floors, however life was good and I would love to live that lif...
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Refugee Week 2016

Refugee Week runs from 19 - 25 June 2016The theme for Refugee Week for 2015 to 2017 will be "With courage let us all combine". Taken from the second verse of the national anthem.It celebrates the courage of all refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. Other themes hold strong the theme of "Welcome". These themes ...
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International Volunteers Day 5 December 2015

International Volunteer Day is celebrated worldwide each year on 5 December to pay special tribute to the thousands of volunteers making a difference locally, nationally and globally.This year, 99 MIFSA Volunteers continued the spirit and culture of our founding members, contributing over 9,000 hours supporting and enhancing a range of services: Ac...
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Domestic Violence and Anxiety - My Personal Journey

I was in a domestic violence relationship for 7 years - This is how that affected my mental health whilst with him and after himI met my ex husband when I was seventeen years old. At the time I had just recovered from a serious episode of depression, which had seen me engaging with self harming, thinking seriously about suicide and only starting to...
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Congratulations MIFSA Mount Gambier!

The 2015 South Australian Regional Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals, groups and business that have made a significant contribution to the Limestone Coast Region. Out of 226 nominations across the region, MIFSA Mount Gambier made it through as one of 42 finalists!At the award ceremony held in Naracoorte last night, the ...
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It's Carers Week!

National Carers Week provides an opportunity for us to learn about the diversity of carers and their caring role. There are 2.7 million Australians who provide unpaid care to someone with a mental illness, disability, chronic condition, terminal illness or the elderly. A carer makes an enormous contribution to our community and often requires ...
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Mental Health Week 2015

A successful mental health week is over for another year. It is wonderful that mental health is now openly discussed. It is a start to taking the apprehension away. However we need to ensure the discussion continues.The Youth Mental Health Report – released by Beyond Blue – found that:* One in four young Australians are likely to be experiencing me...
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Schizophrenia: Don’t be left in the dark

The results of a survey commissioned by Janssen-Cilag Pty Limited in partnership with the Mental Illness Fellowship Australia (MIFA) ahead of the 2015 Schizophrenia Awareness Week showed some disturbing responses and poor understanding of mental illness, in particular schizophrenia.

The survey involving 1,000 Australians, including 54 cares, revealed four in 10 Australians (43.6%)1 admit they have no or limited understanding of what schizophrenia is despite almost one in four (23.2%)1 knowing someone with the illness.

More alarming is that half of Australians (54.5%)1 admit there is a greater stigma around schizophrenia than other mental illnesses in society with over three quarters (84%)1 revealing they would not tell an employer about their schizophrenia diagnosis – with half admitting this would be out of fear of being judged or missing out on job opportunities.1

Research released in May also found that one in four (26.2%)1 Australian families caring for a loved one with schizophrenia do not talk to family and friends about the care they provide, highlighting the isolation and challenges of caring for someone with schizophrenia. So too are lost friendships, relationship break down and issues with family due to their caring role.

“Shining a spotlight on Carers” was a unique awareness-raising activity in the week leading up to Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2015 which drew interest from the community as well as media attention.  The ‘Don’t Be Left In The Dark’ campaign involved placing a large perspex box in two public settings in the Sydney CBD.  In the box was a person representing a carer searching for information on Schizophrenia.  Despite the wintery weather, people were drawn to the installation, peering into the little side holes and generally observing the person inside.  The installation was a powerful representation of how it feels to be a carer of someone living with Schizophrenia and the stigma placed on them as a carer.  To read the story and view the installation visit www.fullstoryschizophrenia.com.au.

 

Schizophrenia affects 1 in 100 people. This means that there are up to 200,000 Australians with schizophrenia; these are real people with real lives and real families. Schizophrenia is an illness like any other illness, instead of affecting the liver or heart it affects the brain. With the right support recovery is very possible for people living with schizophrenia.

References

1. Survey commissioned by Janssen in partnership with the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, conducted by Pure Profile in April 2015. 

 

 

 

 

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MIFSA Goes Purple

Friday the 28th of August is that one day of the year when MIFSA staff, participants and supporters alike are encouraged and can choose to dress in purple to show their support for young lesbian, gay,  bisexual, trans, intersex or queer people.  The Wear it Purple day encourages the whole community to wear purple and in doing so celebrate our young and diverse LGBTIQ community in a colorful and fun way.

MIFSA staff know that LGBTIQ youth are still some of the most vulnerable people in society, with 43%  experiencing  discrimination, including verbal abuse and violence.  Research informs us that the most common age for first engaging in self harm, including attempting to take their own life happens at 16, just before "coming out".   Wearing purple wont change the statistics, but it sends a message, that we accept and support  you regardless of difference.   

If you know a young LGBTIQ person that is struggling contact our Queer Connections team or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on 1800 985 944. Perhaps you'd also like read about Families Like Mine from Beyond Blue.

 

Heath Reed

LGBTIQ Project

Queer Connections 

 

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Joy for Music

MIFSA’s Activity Programs support people living with mental illness to engage in activities to develop self confidence, learn new skills, make friends and have fun. In this article Dana shares his experience attending MIFSA’s music programs and the important role it has played in his journey to recovery.

Joy for Music

I have been coming along to MIFSA for a while now. Having attended both the Activity Program and Respite House Music Programs. These have been great and the staff do a great job, particularly Suzi at Respite House. Music was something that I loved to do before I got unwell. Through being unwell I lost about ten years of writing and playing music. The first time I played again was with the Wayville Activity Program.

At the beginning I was recommended to the Wayville bowling group by a friend of mine. I visited a couple of other places and the Wayville program was the one that I liked. The centre definitely felt like a nice place to walk into. I was real keen to bowl and to do so I needed to be here on a Thursday to get my name down on the booking sheet. Visiting the centre on a Thursday meant I got to see the music band practicing (and I thought wow that's great, I could do that).

I think I came in the following week with my own guitar. It was a low stress situation, where I could afford to make a few mistakes (I still do). Over time I got to know others in the group and the guys that run it - who do a fantastic job. Coming and playing rekindled my motivation to practice, run a few scales and recall past pieces I previously enjoyed. Music is important to me as it was always a big part of my identity. Even my friends have said that I am much better in myself since I have been playing music again. The structure of the group helped make it possible. Sometimes when I think about the time I spent not playing, it as though I've got back something that I thought I had lost. It wasn't just the music, it was the people doing it with me. 

It's definitely more than just the music, it's also about a sense of purpose - if I have a good day I really feel it. I have regularly played the improvisation parts, I get to enjoy them when it flows, and I don't have to worry too much if it doesn't come, because I can play terribly, then shrug my shoulders and it is forgotten. If I play well someone will come up and say, ‘that was great’ and it feels good. Not only have my friends seen a change in me, but my family also has seen that I am doing things like practicing and playing in a way that has purpose. Music is important in my family and having this in my life again has helped things in these relationships too.

I have been thrilled with the Respite House music program. You turn up the first day and set up, play for four days, and on the final day you pack up. Through the four days you get know the style and approach of others, and it is great to play with the group as it develops. This group has seen me play with musicians and styles of music that I would probably never have played with otherwise. Seeing others play (sometimes for the first time with a band) is also awesome. It is great to see others on their own musical journey. Last time I was at Respite House I shared a song I wrote fifteen years ago, and on this occasion I was able to play it for the first time with a band. The Respite staff are fantastic, they really listen, they love music themselves and are really easy to relate to. Having staff that have a passion for music, and that understand recovery makes the whole thing come together in way that is really special.

Regularly getting together at a set time in the week gives you something to look forward to, takes the stress of getting it organised and makes for some really great times. The only thing I would change is to attend the Respite Music Program more often.

 

Dana

 

 

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Stress Down Day – Friday July 24th

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On Friday July 24th the nation celebrates Stress Down Day, a Lifeline initiative.

 

As I consider this, some questions come to mind:

What is stress?

Why have only one day dedicating to Stressing down?

What are my stress levels like? What are yours?

How do you we know we are becoming stressed?

Is stress even a problem? Can stress be positive?

 

There are so many triggers for an elevated level of anxiety – and I will consider stress from this perspective – when we feel unable to function properly because our minds are spinning out of control, when we feel anxious or nervous much of the time, or when we have weights that feel too heavy to carry – when life just becomes hard work! There are many that say that our current environment is one which allows for very little peace and rest – rest from our busy active minds. We worry about what we just did. We worry whether we can fit everything in that we hope to achieve. While there are real challenges in life, worry does not solve them. And for many of us, when we have a minute’s break we check our Facebook, our Twitter, Snap Chat, our phones, messages and emails. We struggle to sit and just “be” and we can feel lost when we are not “plugged in” somewhere!

It is hard to relax “in the future” right now, and we cannot change the past. But what Ican do is relax, right now. Even while I write. While I write... this... sentence. For the optimum mental health, for joy and peace and calm... and also for the best performance – space, relaxation, with a healthy level of energy, is the best way to be. And unlike peaks of adrenalin, excitement or frenetic energy... it is sustainable.

Meditation is a process whereby we shift away from thinking and worrying, and move into sensing – actually using our physical senses. We often tend to think of meditation as a specific activity at a specific time – and that it can be. But did you know that your worrying and thinking stops, even momentarily, when you move your awareness into using your physical senses? We cannot think and sense at the same time. And you can do it as you work, as you juggle appointments, as you plough through family conflict, as you move through your day. You can right now stop after reading this sentence and listen for the sounds in the room, in the bus, in the street where you are. Do not list them or analyse them... just hear them, experience them. Or you can right now, if you are sitting or standing, feel your feet on the floor or the ground. Feel them heavy and pushing intothe floor or ground. Just for ten seconds even.

May this Friday be a day when we give ourselves a break from the things that tie us up in knots, may we have short and frequent “sensing” breaks - and may you have a Stress Down Day, Month, Year... and Life!

Mattea Malcolm

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MIFSA celebrates Refugee Week 14-20 June 2015

 

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Refugee week is being celebrated across the country from Sunday 14 June to Saturday 20 June, which gives MIFSA a great opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity and share some of the inspiring journeys of participants and staff.

The theme used this year throughout Australia is “With courage let us all combine”. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home. Refugees have faced persecution because of their traditions or what they believe in, and it takes incredible courage and resilience to leave all that is familiar and step into the unknown in search of peace and a new life in an unfamiliar land.

MIFSA has a team that specifically targets Humanitarian Entrants. This team can support around 50 refugees at any one time, who are experiencing mental health issues and are keen to work on their recovery. The team is a wonderful mix of cultural diversity and brings a rich set of experiences to the work we do. This week two of the team, Fattaneh and Samir will be sharing their personal stories as refugees with the rest of the MIFSA staff.

The team will also be joining participants of our Wayville activities program to share recipes and cook up some tasty dishes from Afghanistan and Nepal. This will provide an opportunity for participants to cook up a storm while sharing dishes from their own culture with others and tasting some they may have never tasted before.

MIFSA celebrates the contribution cultural diversity has made to our country and we feel privileged to be sharing the journey with refugees in our community.

Here are two excellent links to learning more about Refugees in Australia and the refugee activities happening over the next couple of weeks:

http://www.refugeeweek.org.au/

 http://www.mrcsa.com.au/whats-on

 

Elisabeth Fagan-Schmidt

 

Team Leader

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Act Now on Mental Illness

Last month the Federal Government released the Report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. The Report comprises more than 700 pages, with 25 recommendations and almost 200 actions, and has the potential to radically reshape how Australia supports its citizens who experience mental illness.

In the wake of this much anticipated report on a national approach on Mental Health, the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia and its member organisations conducted a series of advocacy workshops for people with lived experience of mental illness.

The report provides a landmark opportunity for people with lived experience of severe mental illness to share their stories as individuals or as carers or family members with politicians and to advocate for respect, dignity, recovery and hope for a better quality of life.

MIFSA was privileged to host the first in the series of Advocacy Workshops on Tuesday 5 May. A total of nineteen people in SA join around 100 newly trained advocates across Australia who will receive ongoing support as these make their appointments and meet with politicians in their constituency offices.

The Report gives Australia a ten-year plan for mental health on issues which really matter and advocates around the country are calling for the Government toAct Now on Mental Illness...

 

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