Let's take mental health stigma by the horns...
Presenting a bibliotherapy resource to aid health and allied professionals in starting a conversation about mental illness
If you've ever had difficulty developing discussion with a mentally ill patient or client, or with their family, then you would appreciate the value of a resource to help facilitate open and honest interactions.
With this in mind, Julie Thredgold Jones, a social worker at the coal face of child protection for 18 years, developed Running Over a Chinaman, a true story about the devastating effects of trauma on an otherwise sunny mind. Covering ground such as abandonment issues, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), need for parental approval, survivor guilt and separation anxiety, this book is the perfect bibliotherapy tool to help you help your clients.
Delivered in paperback, PDF or ePub format, this resource can be given to your clients to help them understand that they're not alone in the world, that horrible things do happen to good people, and that it's okay to talk about it. Discussing someone else's story can help you pave the way into the mind of a client determined to keep others out.
I used to be fine
In 1983, I graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Sydney. In this capacity, I worked with the most disempowered groups in our society and I advocated strongly for my clients.
Following an intense period of personal trauma, I discovered that being a professional does not make one immune from mental health issues. Being on the other side of the fence is an eye opening experience and I was horrified to discover, lurking under my proactive professional persona, attitudes that shocked and challenged me.
I was fearful and ashamed that I was ill. This sense of shame and fear of what others, friends and professionals might think surprised me, and shook my world. I was unable to apply the views that I had always advocated as a social worker, to my own situation. The place I found myself in was lonely and isolated, and I desperately wanted to be invisible. My personal hypocrisy profoundly surprised me, and my shame became twofold. I was easily able to apply the prescription of stigma to myself in an efficient and disabling manner.
The healing begins
Writing this book has been one of the most frightening and confronting experiences that I have encountered in life. One night, after waking from a nightmare of physical and mental extremity, I retrieved an exercise book from my desk and just started to write. I wonder now whether that action stemmed from a desperate need to feel that I still had some control over events occurring in my life. I was a prisoner of fear and a gut wrenching sadness that immobilised and paralysed my patterns of thought. I no longer recognised myself. It is highly likely that the random act of picking up that pen saved my life.
It is with these thoughts and insights that I present to you Running Over a Chinaman, an anecdotal story of mental illness and recovery.
It is important to note that Running Over a Chinaman is not a textbook. It is a tool to aid social workers, counsellors, GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists and case workers in opening discussion with clients, patients and their families.
This resource has been developed as a 'safe' place for your clients to visit, as a window into someone else's mind, and as a mutual ground for conversation to enable the client to apply their learnings from someone else's experiences to their own.