Mental health consumers answer hard-hitting questions

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Mental health consumers and clinicians standing under a tree.

Mental health consumers and clinicians standing under a tree.

Do you want to know what it is really like living with a mental health condition? Would you know if you were unwell?

Far North Queensland consumers have shared confronting stories of battles with mental health in a series of videos that seek to remove the stigma about mental illness.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service has launched its Take Time Mental Health Week Video Series on social media to recognise Queensland Mental Health Week.

The series, developed by the service’s Mental Health Consumer and Carer Engagement Working Group, is inspired by the ABC’s ‘You Can’t Ask That’ TV series.

It features six consumers, ranging from 19-62, each answering hard-hitting questions such as whether drug use is related to mental health; and what the inside of a mental health unit actually looks like.

Michael Tervit, CHHHS’ Clinical Director of Mental Health & Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Services (ATODS), said the videos sought to bust common myths about mental health.

‘We hope that by sharing these valuable short series of clips, that we can help close the gap of the unknown,’ Mr Tervit said.

‘This includes those in the community who may have never either experienced a mental health condition themselves or had to navigate the system supporting a loved one experiencing a mental health crisis.

‘We also hope that the sharing of these very personal stories allows others to identify, connect and resonate with some of the information shared, to know you are not alone.’

Kristy Greig, a Senior Peer Co-ordinator for Mental Health and ATODS, said participants in the videos wanted others to know the realities of mental illness.

‘Although the general perception of mental illness has improved over the past decades, studies show that misconceptions around mental illness are still powerful, largely due to media stereotypes and lack of education,’ Ms Greig said.

‘Our videos feature a wide cross section of consumers, ranging from young people who have been managing mental health issues as teenagers; and young and old who have had to navigate care for their loved ones.

‘Some of the stories are inspirational, some are heart-wrenching. There are stories of recovery, and stories of resilience.

‘These are the stark realities of what living with mental illness actually involves, and it is our hope that they help educate others about what to expect in a mental health crisis, and what help is available.’

The videos can be viewed on the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Facebook page.