JCCV Reducing the Stigma

September 12, 2016 by David Marlow
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) hosted the JCCV Mental Health Forum aiming to help open the discussion on mental health issues across the community at Melbourne’s Beth Weizmann Community Centre.Minister for Mental Health and Equality, Martin Foley and JCCV Executive Member, Bram Presser opened the Forum and the Minister outlined the Victorian Government’s mental health policy and initiatives to reduce the rate of suicide in Victoria.

Bram Presses

Bram Presses

Speakers at the Forum included mental health advocate Steve Bedwell, CEO of SANE Australia Jack Heath, Manager Individual & Family Services at Jewish Care Marilyn Kraner, Psychiatrist Dr George Halasz, and Psychologist Nathan Kotler.

Bram Presser stated, “We need to wipe away the stigma and break away the barriers for those who seek help.”

Marilyn Kraner spoke about the mental health work undertaken at Jewish Care and presented their new video, ‘Reach Out Speak Out’ which features individuals from across the Jewish community speaking about their mental health issues.

Steve Bedwell spoke courageously and insightfully about his own mental health history, “My illness has cost me dearly, financially, reputationally as well as on the home front, but now that it is back under control, I am endeavouring to re-invent myself, use my tale as a cautionary one, helping others and removing stigma by bringing to the surface the crippling and too often destructive effects of mental illness…early diagnosis is the key.”

“In some people the prejudices and stigma is too strong, but that is all the more reason to keep chipping away.”

Dr Halasz explained the current thinking in mental health, including the focus on trauma, vicarious trauma and trauma informed care.  And how the effects of trauma can be transmitted across generations.  This was a very poignant message on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.

Jack Heath described his history of working in mental health and with young people, with a focus on suicide prevention. He emphasised that it was important for people with mental health issues to “feel safe in their bodies, before they could feel safe in their minds”.  A safe place to seek help was critical.

Bram Presser stated, “We need to seriously open the discussion on mental health issues, to encourage people to seek help and to reduce the weight it bears upon us, our families and our community.”

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