Last Thursday we kicked off the first of our webinar series on Reclaiming our Rights with self-proclaimed ‘Chief Non-Conformist’ Robyn Priest, who eloquently expressed her thought on the weeks topic Consumers and Survivors Driving Change.

Robyn spoke about her own journey, how she started in the peer support world working towards launching her own business that focuses on mental health and peer support education, and her charge to lead advocacy for her own and others human rights.

The webinar highlighted the strong rights focus required in the mental health sector, with Robyn stating “human rights is something all of us deserve, and we need to be able to say what we want”. Robyn shared real stories to help explain the stigma that still exists, and how the system continuously wants us to look like what society wants us to look like. Robyn noted the importance of self-determination to reclaiming our rights and explained the need to reclaim our recovery, and for others to hear what we have to say. Robyn also explained the importance of recognising our needs and wants.

Describing her current role in peer work as nothing more than being an ‘exploration facilitator’, that is facilitating people to explore for themselves. Sharing a personal example of working with homeless people, Robyn said “It’s about people working it out for themselves, not telling them”. Such an important reminder to us all that the essence of peer work is walking along with the individual and supporting them in their recovery journey.

When asked about how we can promote and protect our human rights in the mental health space moving forward, Robyn strongly recommended for people to start sharing their stories and experiences, either through writing, research reports, or blogging. Additionally, Robyn promoted the importance of taking action in sharing and creating such stories, leading us to take action through organising, mobilising, and prioritising.

Some key messages from Robyn were regarding systemic change:

  • “Pick a lane” – find out what you are passionate about, what place fits you.
  • “Connection” – find people that do the same and connect with them.
  • “Rocking the boat is protecting our interests” – taking up rights and the advocacy charge.
  • “One action only” – is all it takes to make a difference.
  • Work towards what we “DO” want and less about what we “DON’T” want.

For details and to register for our other Mental Health Month Webinars, click here.

View the week 1 webinar recording below.