“Mental illness is no longer a life sentence. The sun will come out and there’s a lot to enjoy.”
Douglas retired from St Vincent’s Hospital’s Consumer Participation Officer in November 2017, after 11 years of putting into action the policies he has worked on. He also works on a range of other projects, including SUPER CRO, which he helped to establish and now a Charity registered with ACNC.
It’s easier to ask Douglas what he hasn’t done rather than what he has done over the course of his working life. What he has done makes for a very long list.
He’s come a long way for a young man who loved the t-shirt and thongs lifestyle of his native Newcastle in the Hunter region. Until the age of 42 he had a good career as a long-distance transport driver and union delegate, with a strong work ethic. Then Douglas was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. Since that time, he’s been a key participant in many developments in mental health, including the consumer and peer worker movements.
Douglas served on a number of committees and boards of state and national mental health organisations, putting into practice the findings of a post-diagnosis vocational survey that identified him as someone who could provide advice to government, and work in education or financial management.
Inspired to improve the recovery journey for consumers and their families, Douglas has been a member and executive officer of Being (formerly the NSW Consumer Advisory Group) as well as a founding member of the Australian Mental Health Consumer Network.
Douglas has been the TheMHS Consumer day Peer Support person since 1998 and continues that work today with the TheMHS 2021 Melbourne happening later this year.
Douglas loves supporting other consumers to become involved in peer work.