Speaking Our Minds:
A guide to how we use our stories
Our consumer place, 2011
This booklet provides an overview of storytelling from the perspective of people who have been diagnosed with ‘mental illness’ (in this booklet, we call ourselves ‘consumers’). It is part of a series of consumer-developed booklets produced
by Our Consumer Place (www.ourconsumerplace.com.au), a groundbreaking mental health resource centre run by consumers.
Funded by the Department of Health (Government of Victoria) and auspiced by Our Community, we offer information and advice for individual consumers, groups of consumers and anyone else who supports consumer leadership.
Most of the available information on mental health has been written by other sorts of ’experts’ – mental health professionals, mental health charities, or researchers who are not consumers. This booklet is different – it is written by people who have been labeled with ‘mental illness,’ based on our knowledge, drawn from our lived experiences.
The people who have contributed to this booklet have years of experience sharing their stories in various contexts – with friends / workmates, teaching mental health professionals from a consumer perspective, speaking to the media or speaking at public forums. This booklet is designed to support consumers getting the most out of these opportunities, without too great a cost to yourself.
Of course, people with a diagnosis of ‘mental illness’ do not all have the same views; we disagree with each other on many points. How you tell our story (and, indeed, whether and to whom and in what contexts you choose to tell your story) is entirely up to you. It is your story. In fact, as we explore in this booklet, you may have many stories, depending on the context, what message you want to convey or how you are feeling. We know that you will find your own path – we offer this booklet in a spirit of “take what you like and leave the rest”.