Live Different Think Different Be Different: The Mind-Life Project set out to solve one of society’s most sticky problems: Creating community connection and a sense of full citizenship for the most vulnerable
The Mind-Life initiative is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services through an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grant to reframe psychosocial disability, reduce stigma and improve community access for people who experience psychosocial disability”
We pose the question: What is psychosocial disability? How does the term help us create an inclusive sociality? In fact, does it? Or does it further separate society?
How can we make sense of this term? What does it mean to you?
Mind Life project focus was to work with design teams across the State to create and test try and explore resources that help deliver on what it means to live well and what could we do differently that makes sure everyone can be included.
The Project has a focus on working in regional and rural areas and is led by Bridges Health & Community Care.
My career in the mental health sector began 23 years ago as a community development officer for mental health and my role was to coordinate activities to enable people with a lived experience of mental ill health to have input into the mental health service system and establish alternative supports and services outside of a hospital based medical model.
I am most definitely a protagonist driven by a sense of duty and belief in the fundamental right for human beings to be treated with dignity, respect and without discrimination. I’m also curious and enjoy challenging the status quo, so my first job after graduating from university as a psychologist was the perfect match.
The concept of the mind-life project was derived from the desire to disrupt a service model that defines people who experience adversity with a labelling term that focuses on what they can’t do rather than what they can. It also seeks to normalise adversity so that the individual holds onto the hope and desire to live a better life, is encouraged to determine their own path to recovery and not be dependent on an illness driven model. The irony of being part of that service system as a mental health service provider is not lost on me and challenges me every day. But, the human-centred design process used within the mind-life project is giving us such a wonderful opportunity to unpack and challenge a service system and design new ways of working in the mental health sector driven by those that use it and work in it.
I followed with interest the first iteration of the Mind-Life project and jumped at the chance to be involved in testing out some resources at the mental health service I was managing at the time. When the opportunity to be part of the project team for the next stage of Mind-Life came about, I was super keen.
My introduction to working in mental health services was 26 years ago, on Queensland’s first official deinstitutionalisation project. Supporting people to start new lives in the community some of whom had been locked away for longer than I had been alive was a profound experience teaching me more than I ever learnt since in tertiary studies. Witnessing the tenacity of the human spirit still daring to hope for something better was deeply humbling.
At that point in time, I didn’t have a formal qualification, and everything was based on a deep human to human connection and mutual respect and trust built up over shared experiences. Negotiating with each person how we would be in relationship with each other and what we needed to work well together seemed like the obvious way to do things. At that time there were also plenty of opportunities to have long and deep conversations with other people on that same journey to compare stories and agonise together over how we could ensure we were showing up authentically and fulfilling our moral obligations to people.
Overtime, obvious ways of being can get lost in service systems with increasingly lower appetites for risk and limited opportunities to have important and crucial conversations. The Mind-Life Project provides a wonderful suite of resources offering help seekers and help providers ways to come back to each other and reconnect human to human.
I have always been a bit of a disruptor, wanting to stretch the ways in which we organise and provide assistance to those who want and deserve more for their life. The Mind-Life project bravely tackles and rethinks the notions of stigma, discrimination, citizenship, community and how services can respond so people can lead and live their best lives, despite the social impacts caused by mental illness and its treatments. These areas, important to me to negotiate, and undoubtedly remain important for many others, as they strive to live beyond the perceived limitations set by themselves or others. I have developed a passion for service design , especially using human centred design approaches. My role in the project is to ensure it remains true to its human centred promise. I am sure Mind–Life will stretch me as I am asked to stretch it.
Project Officer - Resources
It's so exciting to be working on the Mind-Life project again this year. The first stage of the project was so inspiring, and this stage is going to add another layer of usability again.
I really believe that if we want something different from our services and systems of care, we need to be willing to challenge our thinking. I believe that Mind-Life is a great opportunity to do this. We are challenging some of the core beliefs that have underpinned human services for many years. I hope that what we create, helps people to think outside the square, challenge the status quo and bring opportunities for help seekers to step into their power in their helping relationships.
I am also really passionate about helping front-line help providers to feel better about their work. I believe that the Mind-Life way of working can allow help providers to feel more satisfaction, increase their confidence and skill and avoid burnout. Help provider burn-out is a big issue and I truly believe that by working in the Mind-Life way, utilising the resources we can reduce this significantly.
Let's share the power more equally, support help seekers to lead their helping teams and keep good helpers in the game for longer so they can continue helping others.
Project Officer - Marketing
In a former role with Bridges I assisted the Mind-Life project in its early stages. I am excited to be back, providing support to this ground-breaking project through both a marketing lens in developing arts and health projects informed by Mind-Life resources and processes.
I have 28 years of experience in the arts industry from studio artist to gallery director, curator, consultant and founding director of a non-for-profit arts production company. I specialise in producing projects in the areas of visual arts and design, public art, place activation, multiarts, festivals and events. I also bring the experience of managing social media and marketing from an organisational perspective and my own creative businesses.
I am so grateful to be part of a team and process that is developing products and programs that are people-centred and breaking through the mindsets that prevent people from personal sovereignty.
Past Contributing Team Members
The opportunity to lead a project that sets out to reframe psychosocial disability was irresistible to me. Exploring ideas and designing new resources that challenge and explore the social constructs of disability inspires me to uncover what is possible.
With a background working in both the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission and the Anti-Discrimination Commission, as a disability advocate and in the mental health community sector for the past 15 years I remain curious about how can we find ways to open our collective thinking, hearts and society to welcome and include all.
I co-ordinate the operations of the project as well as assisting the team to get things done.
Having had very limited experience in the mental health sector, I can’t believe that society has been trying to solve this ‘sticky’ problem for decades. I am passionate about equity and everyone having a “voice” (verbal or otherwise) and having choices. Because of this, I am inspired by being given the opportunity to be part of a team working on a project that encourages communities to practise equity in their approach to engaging all people.
Project Officer -
I am delighted to officially join the Mind-Life team and find new ways to ensure that our community is accessible to all. I am excited about driving the online conversation through our social media outlets and working with the team to find new ways to talk about psychosocial challenges. I will be asking lots of questions and sharing information that will stimulate many conversations and look forward to hearing your thoughts and contributions.
For over three decades I have been working with communities across Australia either behind the scenes, behind the screens or upfront as an program manager, in the Arts, running Festivals and supporting people with an array of lived experiences. My working life began with travelling the world and seeing how others experience their life. Bringing this international perspective back to a local context, I find that social media is an amazing place to have conversations with a global community where you can find like-minded people to share your stories with.
I am really enjoying working with the Mind-Life team to explore how to reframe what is a psychosocial disability, reduce the stigma around this and improve community access. I hope to create community connection through online engagement, where I love to hear your contributions to designing the Mind-Life tools. See you in cyberspace!