Lived experience

In 2008, I dropped out of high school due to severe mental health issues. I was 9 when I first started thinking about suicide, 10 when I first started hearing voices, 11 when I experienced my first psychotic episode and 14 when I first attempted to take my life.

After leaving school my mental health continued to decline. I remained housebound with constant thoughts of suicide and agoraphobia. My carer (my Mum) sought services for me, but there were limited options.

Eventually I was put on a waiting list for Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMS) and after some time began receiving support. A PHaMS worker visited my home once a week and they supported me to leave my house and enter the community. I cannot understate how massive this accomplishment was for me! Prior to this, I had not left my home for 18 months.

With the support of the PHaMS worker I began considering goals for the future. They asked me, “what does recovery look like for you?” I had never considered my recovery, nor did I know that I was allowed to define it for myself. In answer I said, “I’d be working’’. That’s how I would know I’m in recovery, because right now getting a job seems impossible.

My PHaMS support continued until 2011 when I was ready to be exited from the program. Where am I now? In 2015, I accepted a position as a Mental Health Community Worker. I have been involved in facilitating peer-led psycho-education groups for people living with mental illness and I have witnessed people’s lives change just like mine did.

I travel across Western Australia delivering Suicide and Mental Health training for businesses, schools, and community members. Over the past year, I have developed Recovery-Oriented Practice training for Western Australia’s mental health workforce. I encourage staff to ask participants, “what does recovery look like for you?”

Note: The Personal Helpers and Mentors program was defunded by the Federal Government and discontinued in 2019

Lived Experience