Jack Heath is the CEO of SANE Australia, where I am fortunate to sit as a director on their board.
Jack started with a career in politics while the Labour government was in power here in Australia, and after a tragic incident where his cousin died by suicide - Jack started the Inspire foundation in 1997. Now known as Reach Out, It was the world’s first online mental health service for young people.
After over a decade there, and successfully launching Reach Out in Ireland and in the US - Jack now is the CEO of SANE Australia, which works to help the nearly four million Australians affected by a complex mental illness.
There’s been a great amount of work done in our community around awareness and destigmatization of Anxiety and Depression, and indeed we now live in a different world in regards to both of these illnesses.
However, there’s nearly 700,000 Australians that live with a Complex Mental Illness diagnosis. This includes Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Eating Disorders, and schizophrenia.
This week in Australia it’s schizophrenia awareness week.
Whatever you think about when you think about schizophrenia, I’m asking you to open your mind to be changed. Schizophrenia is not a death sentence, there is help and treatment available and indeed a rich and fulfilling life is still available.
I guess the biggest misconception about schizophrenia is that a diagnosis means you’ll be a danger to yourself and others. In fact the latest research out of Sweden shows that the possibility of someone with schizophrenia being violent is far less likely that previously thought, which is a finding that allows both medical personnel and indeed law enforcement to focus their limited resources on the very few patients that do pose a risk to themselves and others.
Now a trigger warning right up here at the top.
Jack’s story involves talking about the death by suicide of his cousin, and Jack discloses incidents of sexual abuse that happened to him while he was still a child.
Again if you need to speak to someone - please hit pause on this and call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263
Ok. This is a heavy conversation, but it’s an important conversation.
Come to my kitchen, sit at my vintage parker table in my super-comfy Eames dining chairs, and enjoy this cup of tea and a chat with CEO of SANE Australia Jack Heath.