Aaron Fornarino is a SANE Peer Ambassador, who was first admitted to a mental health facility at the age of 14 and was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Reflecting on the findings of the Our Turn to Speak survey, which form the National Stigma Report Card, Aaron says he can relate to many of the experiences reflected in the data.
"I was discriminated against very early on in life when I was given my diagnosis. I was told by mental health professionals I'd be in and out of hospital for the rest of my life, I wouldn't be able to maintain relationships, I probably wouldn’t engage in meaningful work and I would have difficulty maintaining friendships. I was 17 at the time."
Speaking about the Legal and Justice Services life domain, Aaron notes:
"The use of police in emergency attendance for mental health crises is in dire need of trauma-informed care so police do not escalate issues. Many judicial officers need training on how to treat mental health issues and discussions in a sensitive manner, in front of their clients. I am not surprised by some of the high percentages of perceived stigma in the data."
Our Turn to Speak was the first survey of its kind in Australia that sought to comprehensively understand the experiences of people living with complex mental health issues, and how they are affected by stigma and discrimination.
The voices of people like Aaron are vitally important in ensuring we can redesign policies and systems in an effective, sustainable way.
Take a look at the National Stigma Report Card recommendations for action, and join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #OurTurnToSpeak and #StigmaAndMe.