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Stigma Watch Bulletin December 2020

Welcome to the final edition of the StigmaWatch bulletin for 2020.

What a year it’s been! Between the drought and devastating bushfires affecting so many at the start of the year, and the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted the entire country and sent us into a variety of lockdowns, alongside dramatic changes to the way we go about daily life, it has been a tough year for all of us.

The flow-on effects of restrictions and other COVID-19 measures have no doubt touched you and your loved ones this year. The demand for mental health support services has steadily increased throughout the year, with record numbers of people reaching out for help and to stay connected, including via the SANE Help Centre.

This demand is expected to remain for some time, making the work SANE Australia and StigmaWatch does to combat stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues more important than ever. We are confident that our work is making an impact and are hopeful that people who may have previously been hesitant to reach out for help, may do so now.

This edition, we celebrate the launches of both the National Stigma Report Card, that presents the findings from the Our Turn to Speak survey, and the new Life After Bushfires digital resource. We also chat with one of our SANE Peer Ambassadors, Jenni about her experience with stigma.

The SANE Australia StigmaWatch team wishes you all a safe, joyful holiday season and look forward to a less challenging 2021.

National Stigma Report Card

living with ocd covid

The National Stigma Report Card findings are in, and they show that people living with complex mental health issues experience high rates of stigma and discrimination in many important areas of their lives.

Almost 2,000 people shared their experiences as part of the study, led by SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

The top five areas of life that survey participants said were most affected by stigma and discrimination in the previous 12 months were relationships, employment, healthcare, social media and mental healthcare. 

This world-leading research was launched during Mental Health Week 2020, via a webinar emceed by Natasha Mitchell – multi-award winning ABC journalist, podcaster, documentary maker and the founding presenter and producer of All in the Mind.

The webinar featured the wisdom and insights of people with lived experience, details of the findings, and recommendations about how the research can be used to create meaningful change. You can watch a recording of the launch online.

The comprehensive research report, the report summary and the Recommendations for action are available on the website, alongside reflections from real people with real stories of stigma and discrimination. The website also features the online data explorer, an interactive tool where you can compare survey results from different life domains, mental health issues and demographics.

Thank you to everyone who took part in this vital study. SANE Australia is committed to honouring everyone’s participation by using the National Stigma Report Card to drive meaningful, systematic change that sees people affected by complex mental health issues being supported and included as equal members of our community. 

The reality of stigma surrounding mental health issues – Q&A with Jenni


Jenni is a creative, positive person who believes that “the glass is always half full.” She enjoys sharing her mental health journey with professionals, carers, the general public and with others who have a lived experience of mental health issues.

Jenni is a SANE Australia Peer Ambassador. She has lived with a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder for over 20 years. Schizo-affective disorder is a mental health condition marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.

In this Q&A guest blog, Jenni shares some of her experiences about the everyday impact of stigma surrounding mental health issues and why she feels so strongly about changing attitudes and educating others about complex mental health issues.

Read the entire blog here.

Life After Bushfires: A new digital mental health resource from SANE

Mindframe language guide

SANE Australia is proud to launch a new digital mental health resource, Life After Bushfires, designed to help people who have been impacted by bushfires focus on their mental health as part of their bushfire recovery.

SANE Australia CEO Jack Heath says in the immediate aftermath of traumatic events like the recent bushfires, primary needs such as housing and physical health are an immediate priority and mental health can often be overlooked.

“The mental health impacts of traumatic events like the bushfire crisis can be huge, and long lasting. For people with a history of trauma or a complex mental health issue, this is particularly important. These people can be incredibly resilient in times of crisis, and often step in to help others in need, but after the worst is over, the delayed impact on them can be significant,” said Mr Heath.

“Recovery is a process, a long process that is not linear. As people continue to repair and rebuild after the traumatic Black Summer bushfires, the time is right to invest in mental health and wellbeing, particularly for those living with a complex mental health diagnosis such as schizophrenia, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).”

Life After Bushfires includes real stories from people affected by both complex mental health issues and the fires and provides information, tailored support services and connection through online peer-to-peer Forums.

Go to our Life After Bushfires page to find tips on trauma recovery, self-care, connecting with others and seeking help.

New guidelines for reporting on  mental illness, violence and crime.

The way in which the media reports cases where severe mental illness is linked to violence can be incredibly stigmatising, and it is important that such stories are covered in a safe and responsible manner.

Mindframe has recently added to the suite of evidence-informed guides for media with the introduction of the Mindframe guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime.  These guidelines aim to encourage best practice media standards in order to reduce stigma and encourage help-seeking.

The new guidelines form part of a PhD project, supported by graduate research scholarships from National Health and Medical Research Council (MHMRC) and Australian Rotary Health to Anna Ross (Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne).

To view and learn more about the Mindframe guidelines on media reporting of severe mental illness in the context of violence and crime, please visit the Mindframe website.

SANE Australia end of year appeal

2020 has undoubtedly been a challenging year for all Australians, even more so for those affected by complex mental health issues.

In a time when uncertainty is rife, and our basic pleasures have taken a backseat to cope with the COVID-19 health crisis, the SANE Help Centre has seen demand for support increase by over fifty percent.

As we reflect on the dramatic changes to our lives this year, we hope that you will consider a donation in support of the Help Centre. All donations, no matter the size, make an enormous difference. Click the button below should you wish to contribute.

SANE Australia is a registered charity, making a real difference in the lives of the four million Australians affected by complex mental health issues through support, research and advocacy. All donations $2 and over are tax deductible

StigmaWatch on Twitter

Follow SANE Australia on Twitter where we use the hashtag #stigmawatch to share StigmaWatch news and information. We love hearing your thoughts on all matters to do with media coverage of mental ill-health and suicide.

VMIAC Newsletter 11 September 2020


With everyone in Victoria experiencing greater isolation then normal, it is more important than ever to check in with yourself and loved ones. If you have lived experience of mental health or emotional distress and are also having trouble coping during COVID-19, contact our peer support workers through our CHECK-IN connection and support program. Find out more here!
CHECK-IN is not a crisis service. If you, or someone you know is in crisis, please call Lifeline or Beyond Blue.

We never talk about how valuable our lived experience can be to others. This mental health week we want to change that. From the 10th-18th October, we will be showcasing consumers’ contributions to community, both big and small. If you are interested in sharing your contributions, head over to our website to find out more!

La Trobe University are seeking volunteers for a study about mental health nurses. This survey is open to those with a lived experience of mental health issues as well as those working within the mental health space. Click here to find out more!

You can access the complete newsletter via the link below:

Tandem eNews 17 March 2020

Dear Tandem members and supporters,

Due to the state of emergency recently announced by the Victorian Government based on COVID-19 health advice, Tandem has suspended all group meetings for the foreseeable future, however will continue to provide support to you via telephone on the Tandem Support and Referral line 1800 314 325.  

As you may be aware, many organisations have cancelled events and conferences, which are now being postponed to the end of the year.

We will continue to keep you updated in our ENEWS.

In regards to our Members’ Meeting with the Commissioners on April 7th we are now exploring ways to run this event remotely while providing you with the opportunity to send questions in and have them addressed by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

These are testing times and I am hopeful that we can all show kindness and compassion to each other as we navigate our way through such uncharted territory.

In the meantime, we ask that you take steps to manage your own risks by:

  • Knowing what to do to avoid/minimise exposure;
  • Recognising symptoms; and
  • Knowing what to do if symptoms are present.

If you or a family member has been travelling recently or been in close contact with someone who has recently travelled, and are exhibiting fever or respiratory symptoms we kindly ask you to please seek medical advice.

For more information about COVID-19 please visit the DHHS website as a recommended resource:

To read the complete enews please click on the link below:

Alfred Health Carer Support Services Friday Extra 5 April 2019

Laughter Yoga program for Carers – 30 April in St Kilda
Join Inner South Family and Friends for Laughter Yoga and other stress-relieving techniques. People of all physical abilities are welcome.  Chairs will be provided and if you can breathe and laugh, you are able to join in.
See the flyer for details

New NDIS Carers Handbook
Carers Victoria is pleased to release a guide offering practical advice and support on how to achieve the best possible outcomes for both the person being cared for and for carers.
Get your copy here

Please click on the link below to read the complete Friday Extra:

Sane Express December 2018

Launch of the Anne Deveson Research Centre

On 22 November, SANE Patron-in-Chief the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO launched the Anne Deveson Research Centre (ADRC). This new SANE Australia initiative is dedicated to carrying out practical research which will drive policy change to improve the lives of Australians affected by complex mental illness.

Visit the ADRC site

The SANE Blog

Featuring interviews, tips and personal stories on issues important to people affected by complex mental illness.

Recent highlights on the blog include:

Nine great books about living with mental illness

What is the DSM? Your questions answered

The importance of remaining curious as an online advocate

How to connect when you feel alone

You can access the complete Sane Newsletter by clicking on the link below:

Carers Victoria NDIS Training Workshops for Carers

Carers Victoria Mental Health Program: Carers, families & the NDIS

Are you caring for a person with a psychosocial disability? Do you want to know more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)? The program covers information the carer will need to be prepared for the NDIS with a psychosocial disability perspective, and consists of four sessions, each of three hours in duration.

Program overview
Tuesdays 10am–1pm, Carers Victoria, Level 1, 37 Albert Street, Footscray

Session 1: 10 April – Understanding the NDIS
Session 2: 17 April – Starting on the NDIS plan
Session 3: 1 May – Effectively engaging with the NDIS
Session 4: 8 May – Making your voice heard More

Carers must attend the first session to continue in the program and cannot bring the person they care for. Registration essential. Please ring Carers Victoria on 1800 242 636 and quote event number #5185 or register online.

Inner South Family and Friends Support Group Meeting Tuesday 8 August 2017

You are invited to join us for this month’s meeting to hear our guest speaker The Hon Emma Kealy MP, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Shadow Minister for Senior Victorians, Shadow Minister for Consumer Affairs to speak from her background at the coalface of health care.  She is keen to hear your views and concerns about the challenges of being a carer and the challenges associated with mental health care.  For more information see 2017-08-08 Emma KealyMp, Vic Shadow Min MH-docx

ABC Mental As… 5 October – 12 October 2014

Help us join the dots on Mental Health
Join the ABC for Mental Health Week from 5 – 12 October with ABC Mental As…  A week of shows and events to challenge the stigma and fuel the conversation on mental health.  We’ll take a look at this issue from all angles and perspectives including programs covering entertainment, comedy and debate such as Changing Minds, Timothy, Agony of the Mind and heaps more. Click on to find out about all the programs showing throughout ABC Mental As…

Mental Health Legal Services

“Victoria Legal Aid has been confirmed as the new provider of legal services for people with a mental illness expanding on its existing services.  Victoria Legal Aid currently provides around 73 per cent of representations before the Mental Health Review Board and will now provide a minimum extra 300 representations a year, supporting people with mental health issues in both an inpatient environment and in the community.

As a statewide agency, Victoria Legal Aid has a number of regional offices and local connections, has demonstrated abilities to provide a holistic assessment of client’s legal needs, work across the mental health system and make referrals to appropriate specialist supports.

The services currently provided by the Mental Health Legal Centre are contracted to 30 June 2013.  The Department of Health is working closely with the Mental Health Legal Centre and Victoria Legal Aid to support a smooth transition, ensuring that services are seamlessly available for people with a mental illness.”

From Mental Health Drugs and Regions Division, Department of Health, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000, 18 June 2013