President's Message

Living with Mental Illness

Our October luncheon was sponsored by Access Programs Newcastle – an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider. Our thanks and gratitude to Director of Access Newcastle Gary Christensen and his team for their support of this event, and for the great work that they are doing working with organisations in our region.

We were delighted to have Former NSW Opposition leader, highly successful businessman and public spokesperson on mental health, John Brodgen as our guest speaker. John shared his experiences of depression and suicide with amazing honesty and bravery, and challenged the common misunderstandings of living with a mental illness. He shared how we are experiencing an enlightenment in Australia in our understanding of mental illness as a legitimate illness, no longer a taboo or heavily stigmatised topic.

I was captivated and empowered by John’s message as he shared his very personal journey.

John spoke of how seeing mental illness like any other illness, allows it to be treated effectively. Medication is one part, but lifestyle changes, good choices, sleep and exercise are also important to maintain good mental health.

As I looked around throughout the luncheon, it was obvious that everyone in attendance was inspired and profoundly challenged by John’s message – and for so many different reasons. Afterwards I approached a few people to ask them for some feedback and these were the responses I received.

“It was very refreshing to hear an ex politician just talk about something unrelated to politics in a frank and open manner, and also commendable to hear someone with a public profile actually walk the talk by being unashamedly honest about their personal mental illness. It’s courageous people like John Brogden who will trigger the change our society needs in accepting mental illness.” – Kris Leck

“Wow I could have listened to John Brodgen for hours. I was genuinely inspired by John’s willingness to ‘keep it real’ and share his journey as a Politician and now Businessperson living with mental health. John’s speech was insightful and provided some practical takeaways about how we can ensure inclusion for people in our lives, professional and personally, living with mental health” – Ali Kimmorley

“Understanding the complexities of mental health in our community are greatly improved when people such as John Brogden can speak earnestly to a room full of strangers about what most would consider deeply personal accounts of the highs and lows of life”. – Meg Purser

“For me, a key take-away was the challenge (and importance) of seeing, thinking and feeling about mental illness the same we do physical illness in the workplace. If we can move the needle on that, we’ll create safer and more productive workplaces” – Belinda Smith

“I really appreciated how up-front and frank John was about his experiences. He didn’t shy away from what happened. He had some good points about how we talk about suicide when it happens but we do not talk enough about the stories of those that survive and their journey after” – Stephanie Jordan

A massive thank you to those people who were so willing to contribute and to all of the awesome feedback that I received throughout the afternoon.

Next Luncheon – 12th November

Guest Speaker: Nancy Youssef

Sponsor: FUNDA Finance Partners

A multiple award-winning finance broker, inspiring mentor an energetic philanthropist determined to create lasting change, Nancy is recognised as a leader, innovator and expert.

Nancy will be sharing with us how finding and connecting with your true purpose flows through to all aspects of your life – a perfect conversation as 2019 draws to a close.

I have spoken with Nancy on several occasions and I can assure you that the November luncheon will be one not to miss. I encourage you secure your ticket early to avoid missing out on what promises to be an amazing afternoon

Craig Wellings | 2019 President