I have recently been accepted to the Indian Law Society, where I aim to complete an International Diploma in Mental Health, Human Rights & Law in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). The diploma is a 12 month online course with a 2-week residency in Pune, India, in October 2018.
I have a deep passion for Mental Health Advocacy, which stems from my own experiences, of which I will elaborate.
I come from a business management background and have worked in multiple industries over a 14 year period. In 2016 I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. On the day of my hospital admission, my employer made me sign a 'voluntary' resignation letter, as they 'could not afford' to keep me on during and after my hospitalization, as I was now a financial liability to their business. At this time I was suicidal and unable to dispute this process, as all I wanted to do was go to hospital or just die.
Following my release from hospital a month later, I was unemployed, and felt unemployable, for almost 9 months. In those 9 months, I accumulated much debt as the income protection insurance refused to cover my mental illness. I am still dealing with the financial consequences.
This traumatizing experience catapulted me into a voluntary career of Mental Health Activism as I experienced on a daily basis, the injustice and stigma attached to people that suffer mental health issues. Mental illness varies largely in its degree of severity, and has a complicated impact on society and its people.
I have subsequently become involved with the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG) where I completed a 60-hour telephonic counselor training course. This was one of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had, and being able to assist people in need, was life changing.
I also connected with the South African Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH). They are affiliated with The Movement for Global Mental Health (MGMH) where I was asked to become an Advisory Board member.
This platform further assisted me in promoting my passion for Mental Health Advocacy, when I was approached to join the Global Mental Health Peer Network (GMHPN) as a representative for South Africa. I have also recently joined a group of 30 young people around the world, who form part of The Lancet Commission for Youth Mental Health. We are formulating a document which aims to educate young people about mental health, and how they can get best access support and services. This report will be presented to the United Nations at the Global Mental Health Summit in London in October 2018.
The diploma enables the following transferrable skills:
* Integrate international human rights concepts into your practice
* Explain the elements of mental health service planning using World Health Organization tools
* Identify whether country laws are consistent with international human rights and best practices
* Understand how stigma against people with mental disabilities has resulted in social exclusion and what can be done about it
* Use research evidence to demonstrate human rights violations and develop recommendations to policy-makers, by completing a research project
* Develop a campaign, write policy papers, draft press releases, and use other advocacy techniques to call for changes.
I am incredibly honored to be chosen for this Diploma and as a high functioning Mental Health Service User I would like to continue my work with as much education as I can, to further increase the impact of my work.
Your contribution to my education will assist me immensely, both for myself, as well as part of a global impact on the pertinent, growing issue of Global Mental Health concerns.
I thank you with a deep appreciation in your participation in making this a reality for me!