As an individual, Benjamin participates fully in the active process of living his best life. Within his profession, his practice is strengths-based, and focused towards assisting individuals in the community being able to live well in the present or absence of mental illness. It is Benjamin’s privilege in being able to contribute to the ACT Recovery College and look forward to both learning from and assisting others on their journey
Chris has lived with depression and anxiety since his mid-teens and over the years has developed CPTSD. He also lived with alcohol dependency for over 36 years but has now been sober since October 2013. Chris is the Deputy Chair of the ACT Mental Health Consumer Network, a consumer representative and educator, and a SMART Recovery Group facilitator. Chris worked as a Geotechnical Engineer for over 30 years, but is now pursuing a career in disability support, with an emphasis on exercise and education in recovery. Chris is currently studying for the double degree of Psychology and Sports & Exercise Science at the University of Canberra. Read more about Chris' recovery journey...
Emily is a self-professed wanderluster, photographer, book obsessed, ice-cream enthusiast, right brain, first on the dance floor, chaser of sunshine, adventure and that perfect light! She has a Bachelor of Design (Photography) and Cert III in Early Education & Care. Emily started as a student of the College and experienced first-hand the benefits of the education provided in the courses. To be given the opportunity to provide this for others as a Peer Educator is something Emily cherishes greatly. “I love that a person with lived experience is seen at the College as someone who has positive life skills to share based on their own experiences and mental health journey. I am also excited to learn from the Professional Educators I have the privilege of working alongside. “ Emily promotes a holistic approach to mental health recovery, which aims for thriving, not just surviving.
Twisty has a strong drive to help people. She volunteers with the State Emergency Service (SES), St John Ambulance (ACT) and the Australasian Road Rescue Organisation (ARRO). Twisty has lived experience of mental health issues, both as herself and as a carer. Being involved in the community helps her mental health recovery. She loves teaching first aid and has a real interest in mental health first aid as a natural extension of physical first aid. Twisty loves teaching, learning, mentoring and sharing knowledge. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, walking, Geocaching and making fake wounds.
I was born and raised in Ghana until 2013, when I came to Australia to further my studies. I hold a degree in Social Work and currently work with Canberra Health Services as a social worker / clinical manager. My role in this position is primarily to ensure that the individuals I work with have access to adequate mental health support/care and treatment.
I am very friendly and always seeking out to meet and learn from diverse people to promote community connectedness. I have taught in the past as a teacher and I want to use that experience to promote the wellbeing of people affected by mental health concerns. I am a lover of soccer with interest in the other sporting codes here in Australia. I have volunteered in the past with Communities@Work and looking forward to doing the same with ACT Recovery College.
I’m a Psychology and Counselling student living South side with a housemate and his very fluffy cat. I have personal experience with mental health issues and managing them is a focus of my everyday life. I’m a strong believer in consumer-led healthcare approaches and recovery, and want to be a part of bringing hope and resources to anyone struggling with mental health issues.
Creativity evolves as we experience, explore + express! For as long as the seasons have changed, I have had curiosity to experience explore + express CREATIVELY. I have CREATED my life through lived experience and overcoming personal trauma. Exploring creative practices as a tool for self-care, strength + resilience + developing self-esteem, I now have an Adv. Dip. Transpersonal Art Therapy and Holistic Counselling. I am also an Eco-artist, using ‘gathered’ gifts from nature, selling my products at markets & festivals, far + wide. Nature is my companion + my craft. Creativity my compass + the Seasons my guide!
Keith is a social worker and mental health advocate who has been employed in the mental health sector in Canberra for more than a decade. His volunteer work has focused on raising awareness of recovery and challenging stigma. To this end, he has shared elements of his own lived experience of bipolar disorder and recovery, including to the ABC, Senate Select Committee on Mental Health and World Psychiatric Association International Congress, as well as in his chapter in ‘Coming Out Proud to Erase the Stigma of Mental Illness: Stories and Essays of Solidarity’ (Corrigan, Larson & Michaels, 2015).
I am currently studying a double degree in Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Human Health. I am also the co-owner of an online coaching business focused on educating people about the core principles of training and nutrition, as well as helping individuals develop flexible, balanced and most importantly sustainable training and nutrition habits. One of my personal goals with coaching is to help individuals develop a healthy and positive relationship with food and exercise. My own lived experience with mental illness came from being diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, which was when I subsequently spiraled into depression and anxiety. I used primarily exercise, nutrition, gratitude and meditation to overcome my adversities during this period. Ever since this experience it has motivated me to give back to the community and help improve other people's quality of life, especially those suffering from chronic conditions.
My name is Tianne and as someone with lived experience, I am passionate about giving back to the community by passing on the resources I've acquired so far in my recovery journey. Despite physical and mental setbacks I've learnt to manage the ongoing symptoms of C-PTSD, BPD, Depression, Anxiety, disordered eating and chronic pain. I have studied in Mental Health and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and dream of seeing the DBT skills taught to young people in schools, to help minimize harm and prevent suicide in both young people and adults. By using social media to share my story I advocate to stop the stigma and raise awareness for mental health and chronic pain. You can find me @tia.casey on Instagram or at the ACT Recovery College
Thomas is an Occupational Therapist and Project Officer within the Mental Health, Justice Health and Alcohol and Drug Service (MHJHADS) at Act health. His current work is focused on improving health systems. He has held a long interest in the Recovery College concept after participating in co-designed workshops in the past and is looking forward to being involved. Outside of work Tom can generally be found running and cycling with - and from - his kids.
I’m a mental health researcher and have been living with bipolar 1 disorder and generalised anxiety for more than 20 years. I’ve worked very hard to blend my lived experience and my professional skills to ensure research is focused on lived experience and what we need from the system. My research is also part of my own ongoing recovery. I love the idea of the choice and control involved in Recovery Colleges, allowing people to use education to help themselves in a non-judgemental environment.
Jana is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who works for ACT Health within the MHJHADs division across acute, rehabilitation and forensic settings. Jana is a keen outdoors woman who loves skiing, camping and four-wheel driving. When she’s not outside, Jana is also a keen calisthenics dancer, traveller and Netflix enthusiast. She is excited to be able to work with Chris to co-design the ‘Movement is Medicine’ course. In her spare time Jana is studying her Masters of Mental Health Practice (Griffith University) and is looking forward to spreading the word about the benefits of physical activity.
Hi, my name is Fiona. As someone with lived experience, it is my desire to be able to help others along their recovery journey by sharing my skills, experience and hope. My professional background has been varied from working as an animal wrangler on a farm, coordinator for World Vision, to Maritime Warfare Officer in the Royal Australian Navy. I moved to Canberra 10 years ago, where I now reside with my assistance dog Leo and two bunnies. I’m excited to be given the opportunity to be a Peer Educator at the Recovery College and am looking forward to meeting new students.
Greg has lived 40 years with Bipolar 1 Disorder. He also has a Bachelor of Arts (Modern Languages), Diploma in Education, Masters of Educational Administration. 30 years Secondary School teaching including secondments in teacher training, syllabus and curriculum development. School sport coaching and management to national level. Volunteer Educator with MIEACT for 11 years. ACT Mental Health Volunteer of the Year 2012 for research into the development of MIEACT Do No Harm policy. Hobbies are Motorsport and enjoying my three legendary classic cars. “I have had a long, hard, but ultimately successful recovery and would like to help others achieve their recovery and hopefully help them overcome some of the obstacles on their journey.”
It was through the Buried in Treasures (BIT) course that I was confronted with the self-realisation that I was a hoarder rather than a collector and it is this journey that has made me passionate about bringing BIT to others who may be feeling overwhelmed by their belongings. I have an ongoing history of PTSD, anxiety, depression and chronic pain which I manage with mindfulness, meditation and exercise. I am currently on the Consumer Advisory Group for Directions Health Services.
Hi! My name is Nina, I work as an Occupational Therapist with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, in this role I support young people who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Prior to this I worked with adult of all ages supporting them with varying mental health needs. I completed my study in 2015 after a whirl wind of trying a variety of roles such as social researcher, travel agent, cabin crew and (my favourite) fish monger. The one thing in common with all of these was getting to meet people from all walks of life, talking with them to understand what they need and then doing what I can to help them make that happen. Every time this happens I learn something new, something different and am reminded that the “ordinary” is what makes us extraordinary! I believe the ACT Recovery College will bring people together who have different experiences and skills, providing a way to share with others what they know and find a way to learn together to understand and empower and that makes it extraordinary.
Hi, my name is Jess. I work as a Carer Consultant within ACT Health. I am also a carer to a young person who has mental health issues, and wife and carer to my husband who lives with mental health issues as well. I am very excited to be able to be a part of the ACT Recovery College. I see it as a place where carers, families, friends and consumers are valued, recognised and involved as equal partners in their recovery learning and in content planning. Recovery is about hope, understanding and learning how to use personal strengths and coping strategies to live well. The benefit of this, for carers, is that recovery focused programs are designed to assist individuals, families and carers with an understanding of recovery and offer practical information to assist in managing mental health conditions, developing skills for everyday life and providing opportunities to manage your own well-being.
I have experienced my own mental health issues and I have also provided support and care for many individuals experiencing mental health issues throughout my life. These experiences have provided me with the ability to understand and connect with people experiencing mental ill-health. I am a passionate advocate for the awareness of mental illness and I actively promote the understanding of mental health throughout the community to instil hope, healing, empowerment and connection for all experiencing mental illness.
Brad is a Social Worker, song-writer, proud Dad and lover of boats and fishing. When not working, playing dad, or dreaming about the times he lived on the coast of WA fishing in his boat, Brad likes to spend time in his home studio, writing and producing music as a way of healing and and being in the present moment. Brad has Bipolar I Disorder and and has a history of drug and alcohol dependence. He shares his experience of recovery in his current role as a Peer Worker in the Assertive Community Outreach Service (ACT Health). Brad is also a PeerZone facilitator and is passionate about facilitating peer-led learning. Brad is good-looking, charming, funny, smart, creative and generally awesome. Just ask him.
I am a Chef, Artist and a Naturalist. I believe the ACT Recovery College is a stepping stone to one's journey through life. I wanted to work as an Educator to teach others what I learnt through life, and share my passion for life. I believe mental health recovery is like a bush-walk of possibilities where the path through life can be an individual adventure.
I am a mental health educator and consumer advocate. I use lived experience to bring about positive change in health services and improve community understanding about mental illness through community education, the delivery of peer-facilitated programs and systemic advocacy. I tell my lived experience story to address stigma and promote understanding of the issues facing people with lived experience as a MIEACT Volunteer Educator and a SANE Peer Ambassador, as well as representing lived experience perspectives on committees both in the ACT and nationally.
Kate has a background in creative arts through her theatre and film practice based in
Canberra and is passionate about facilitating arts learning in the community, in
particular working with young people in crisis, drawing on her own lived experience.
Kate has worked with primary schools, community centres and not-for profit
companies to facilitate dramatic and creative arts workshops. Kate is driven by
creating accessible learning experiences for people from all walks of life.
As someone with lived experience, I would like to help others on their recovery journey and gaining new skills and knowledge is a wonderful way to give someone’s life meaning and purpose. I also have a Diploma of Business Management, a Cert IV in Training and Assessment and spent many years as the Regional Training Co-ordinator for an international events company. I also run my own mental health awareness charity This Is My Brave Australia Inc. and am involved in other mental health advocacy organisations in Canberra.
I have a Cert 4 in Mental Health, a Bachelor of Applied Social Science (Counselling) and currently completing my Masters in Social Work and Cert 4 in Training and Assessment. I hope to share my skills, experience and passion with people in their recovery journey.
Hello, my name is John and I have been living with depression for the last 15 or so years. I have qualifications counselling, theology and pastoral care. I have volunteered in the Rural Fire Service. However, the greatest life qualification has been the privilege of journeying with those living with mental illness. I think they are one of the bravest groups of people in our society. I’ve worked in heavy industry, counselling, church and mental health workplaces. I believe that everyone has a right to live the best life free from discrimination and other unhelpful hindrances. I value the life journey of people living with mental health and what they teach me about life and myself. If, I can assist one person to live their best life then that is a privilege and honour. I like seeing people have their ‘ah-ha’ moments as they realise something important for themselves. In my experience, people living with mental health illness, both consumer and carer, lose their identity in this journey. I feel it is important that people reconnect with who you are, your ‘spirituality’ or ‘belief and meaning’, so that you can stand firm in the midst of your mental health journey. I come as a fellow learner even though I will be facilitating some courses. I like photographing flowers, nature, and rock pools. As well as camping, caravanning and turning off technology.
Hi, my name is Heather. I have life-long experience in a carer role, growing up in Perth as a young carer supporting my mum who had schizophrenia. I worked as an Occupational Therapist in both hospital and community mental health settings. I also enjoyed being a stay-at-home mum and doing volunteer work in the community. Since moving to Canberra with my own family I have worked as a support worker (with people with disability), in home and community care (aged care focus), with my local church, and on a carer advisory line up until 2015. In 2017 I completed a Graduate Diploma in Pastoral Counselling. Family life for me continues to include a caring role around mental health. I was personally drawn (as a student) to the ACT Recovery College with its message of hope, connection and learning at a time when I was needing this for myself. Now I have the privilege of being able to work here as an Educator. Recovery for me is not a cure but finding moments of joy and connection regardless of what life has thrown at you. Let’s learn from and encourage one another.
- Amelia is a Research Fellow with the ACACIA (the ACT Consumer & Carer Research Unit, ANU) team working on various projects relevant to, and working towards, the benefit of mental health consumers and carers in the ACT.