Tim is a SANE Peer Ambassador who is used to speaking up about living with complex mental health issues. Together with ANZ co-worker Rav, they’ve created a fundraiser that is starting important workplace conversations around mental health.
Why do you want to support SANE and Australians with complex mental health issues?
RAV: I wanted to come aboard and support SANE with their mission because as an individual that lives with a mental health issue myself, I understand the difficulties that people go through when diagnosed with these conditions. I especially know how hard it can be living with a mental health issue within workplaces, and the affect that these conditions can have on friends and families.
I believe that SANE is doing a wonderful job with raising awareness around Australia. I personally wanted to be affiliated with a platform that aims to enhance the awareness of mental health issues.
You speak openly about living with mental health issues. Have you had to overcome any challenges in discussing your story?
RAV: There were many challenges that presented while speaking up about my experiences for the first few times. The first challenge was obvious: my parents, who are from a South Asian background, full of cultural values and beliefs, at first didn’t believe that mental health issues were an ongoing challenge. Their beliefs had limited their understanding.
Yet my parents tried their best to help me by attempting to understand the conditions. Still to this day, my parents do try to reach out as much as they can. However, the belief that mental health issues can be fixed with a simple cure still remains.
The next few challenges were presented at the workplace. Initially, I never mentioned having the conditions due to the stigma associated with them (the idea of being labelled ‘insane’ or ‘lazy’ were not appealing obviously).
At first, it was scary to open up about my conditions at the workplaces as I was worried about what people will think about me – especially managers. However, over the years, I became more comfortable as I accepted what I was going through. It was amazing to see that the workplace society was starting to accept and understand complex mental health issues.
What do you want others to know about complex mental health issues?
TIM: I want people to know you can’t make assumptions about what complex mental health issues look like. I’d like to emphasize obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affects every aspect of my life. The fact the constant intrusive thoughts and mental or physical compulsions are hidden, or covert, makes it appear as though I’m fine.
I want others to know they can have an impact of the lives of those living with a complex mental health issue, their support and understanding makes a difference. For me, functioning with OCD requires many layers of treatment, support and lifestyle choices. This involves regular visits with my psychiatrist, medication, support of family and friends, an understanding workplace and not drinking alcohol.
With these structures in place, I can lead a healthy and fulfilling life. My OCD can be managed (not overcome); I just need a little bit of understanding and for others to help me on the journey.
How do you think events like yours can reduce stigma and raise awareness around complex mental health?
TIM: Events like the ‘Stadium Stomp’ remind everybody that people with complex mental health issues can do anything. Many of us organising the fundraising event have complex mental health issues and have done everything from taking the idea to ANZ management, to fundraising itself, to getting participants and other parts of ANZ involved. Finally, many of the participants on the day have complex mental health issues too.
One great thing is seeing participants share their story publicly or in the workplace for the first time. Being involved in the ‘Stadium Stomp’ and the fundraising has provided an opportunity to do that.
In particular, at ANZ this one event has helped people leaders understand there are employees managing complex mental health conditions throughout the business. We’re seeing internal communications regarding supporting staff with mental health issues and more mental health discussions in team meetings.
How are friends and co-workers responding to you doing the Stadium Stomp?
RAV: The response straight after announcing the event was great, we received some support from managers at ANZ. We also had some team leaders promote the event to their co-workers and friends, which was so nice of them.
TIM: It is a tough time to fundraise as people are working from home and it is hard to organise things like a morning tea or trivia night to help with the fundraising.
Overall though we’re extremely happy with the amount of money raised and most importantly the discussion around complex mental health issues the event has generated.
Support Tim and Rav’s efforts to raise funds for SANE, supporting Australians affected by complex mental health issues and their family and friends.
Every supporter makes a difference. To raise awareness of complex mental health issues and contribute to services that are directly assisting the people who need it, start your own fundraiser today.