Judi Barrett-Lennard bore all in a video for the commission’s 2013 report on mental health and suicide prevention.
“I gave birth to my son in 1984 and became overwhelmed and anxious in the most debilitating way,” she says.
“These feelings were not something I had ever dealt with. I was a professional, successful woman. Eleven years later, I had another child. The self-blame started on delivery.”
Ms Barrett-Lennard managed her depression with the help of a peer support group at her local hospital.
“This helped me heal and I started to recognise my own resilience,” she says.
“One year later I was facilitating the support group as a volunteer and had started a psychology degree.”
In 2010, she developed and delivered a program called making sense of motherhood.
She continues co‑ordinating and facilitating the course, designed to support the relationship between a mother and baby.
Prof Allan Fels, NHMC chair, says mental illness is more common than we think.
“Around 45 per cent of us will experience mental illness during our lives, but it’s important to remember that mental health is not about facts and figures, it’s about people and families,” he says.
“Hearing the stories of people like Judi is invaluable because it helps all of us to better understand the importance of peer support, and the impact that sharing lived experience of mental health and suicide issues can have.
“People need a stable home, something meaningful to do, something to look forward to, strong connections to family, community and culture, with preventive supports available as well.”
You can view Ms Barrett-Lennard’s story at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms0FZiyA8-Q.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK