Voices for Change is a Mental Health Speakers Bureau who regularly present across Brisbane to speak positively and personally about mental health issues. The aim of the non-for-profit community program, Voices for Change, is to increase awareness about mental health, dispel common myths associated with mental illness and increase sufferers’ confidence and sense of community through discussion about wellbeing.

“Voices for Change is powerful because it puts a human face to mental health and allows an opportunity for people to ask questions that they were too afraid to ask. These people are passionate about making a change and promoting hope and inspiration that mental health recovery is possible,” explains Amy Davies, Program Coordinator of Voices for Change.

Voices for Change supports, trains and mentors their presenters who speak about their own personal experience of suffering and recovery. The presenters want to support and educate their audiences and provide a human face to mental health challenges. A 49-year-old speaker, Lisa, explains her motivation to be a part of this wondrous assembly. “I want to say that suicidality, depression, bipolar mood disorder and trauma are survivable. In fact, as we care for our body, mind and spirit, it is possible to create a life of meaning around, in-between and in spite of symptoms, recurring pain and confusion.” The presenters have experienced various mental health issues and utilise the platform for personal growth, and to connect with others going through similar situations. Another presenter, Ian, says he “passionately believes in our shared community responsibilities in supporting each other’s mental health and wellbeing.” The extremely positive reviews on their website speak to this statement’s truth.

“The members felt that if they were just given a podium where their stories could be heard, they could help to create a long term and positive change. Through our research it became evident that there is incredible value in way that one recalls, formulates, and tells their own story to an audience, in a way that is very different to the story that they may tell themselves or their doctor,” explains Amy Davies.

Voices for Change have worked with the Brisbane City Council, GP Registrars, Queensland Mental Health Commission and Residential Tenancies Authority, and are hosted by Brook Red. They are available to speak to audiences of corporate employees, community organisations, healthcare professionals, university and high school students and events for the general public.

“People are talking a lot more about their wellbeing. But I think we still have a long way to go in terms of building the confidence to ask questions and reducing the stigma and preconceived ideas attached to mental health challenges,” says Amy Davies.

Voices for Change will potentially host an event to honour the stories and positive experiences of the presenters. See their website to keep up to date on events, book a presenter or learn more about the presenters and organisation.

Words by Lydia Maranta
Images by Voices For Change