The lived experience of our founder

At 21 years old, our son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. My late wife and I had no idea about what lay ahead for our son and our family. We found ourselves dealing with a complex system of care, often feeling excluded from his care.

Open Dialogue Centre - Lived Experience

We shared a sense of powerlessness and yet as a family we had so much to give. Love. Time. Concern. Commitment and perspectives on our son’s childhood and how he was living. We also had the financial means to provide whatever was needed to enable his sense of agency and independence. 

As our son’s interactions with the mental health system intensified, we realised he was experiencing increasing levels of isolation – from his peers and family. Yet when we attempted to enter his treatment pathway, we were kept at arms-length and our perspectives were not valued. As his primary carers, knew his history which was relevant to the decisions made on his behalf. 

Even though he had been engaging with the health system for some time, it became clear that the professionals really didn’t know him. They appeared to be  focussed on treating his illness without knowing him and his situation.

Over time, in response with others, we started to build a network of support for our son, involving different touchpoints through his day-to-day life which has given him a safe environment for care and support.

Many years later, I discovered the concept of Open Dialogue.

It immediately resonated with me in a way that was so simple, avoided issues of privacy and yet fundamental to what would have made our son’s and our family’s lived experience so much more positive if we had been able to harness its core principles. 

The Grant Family’s story is a personal one but our family’s interest in the Centre is practical. As a philanthropist we  can see that with funding, training pathways and engagement, Australia can embrace much better outcomes in mental wellbeing and its correlation with the long-term physical health of our community.

Young people (and others) have the potential to be key beneficiaries in Open Dialogue because they are living in a world that promises happiness while promoting their feelings as problems to be solved.  We can do much more to help them to recovery and have a healthy and productive life 

My personal experience in venture capital over many years, has afforded me the opportunity to see people and organisations well equipped to innovate, iterate, and shape ideas to fruition so they can deliver results. I would like to translate this experience into the health and wellbeing of our community. 

I know there are other people and families with similar experiences to ours.  We share the hope that any Australian can rely on a compassionate, supportive and a person-centred mental health care system that is accessible to all. 

Nobody should feel left out or be left behind. It’s time to back approaches that youth, people , families and communities can own and be part of and that our health professionals and community services can trust in and feel proud to offer. Open Dialogue won’t drive itself into our health system. 

The Open Dialogue Centre is focussed on enhancing services through networks and partnerships and a willingness to innovate. That’s why the Grant Family is a founding funder of the Open Dialogue Centre. I invite others to come with us on an exciting journey as we work collaboratively to introduce and embed Open Dialogue in services and systems around Australia. 

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