Fay Jackson experienced mental ill health from her early teenage years and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 37. Early medical advice included that she would not be able to work and would have limited ability to contribute to the lives of those around her, advice which devastated her.
Following the death of an adored brother, Ms Jackson decided to become a potent champion for people with mental health issues, and show her daughters and others that there are ways of living well with mental illness.
At the age of 40, she was appointed to her first permanent role as a mental health advocate, and has since gone on to hold a number of roles drawing on her lived experience. In addition to serving as Deputy Commissioner since 2013, Ms Jackson is General Manager, Inclusion at Flourish and CEO of her own company, Vision in Mind.
Ms Jackson’s focus is on the positive attributes of people with mental health issues, their abilities, their need and desire to work, to raise healthy, happy families, receive good education and to ensure their physical health needs are met. Ms Jackson is passionate about the fact that mental health is an intergenerational, whole of health, whole of life issue and hopes to create a better mental health care system for her children and grandchildren.
Ms Jackson's appointment as Deputy Commissioner began in March 2013 and is current until November 2018.
Highlights for 2016-17:
"I had the opportunity to address a number of conferences this past year. At the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) Exchange in March, I spoke about the role of trauma in the development of mental health issues, as did Professor Helen Milroy from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It was heartbreaking but also heartening that society is beginning to understand how common these experiences are and how tragically long-lasting their effects. I also spoke about the re-traumatising effect of seclusion and restraint and called for leadership on both issues.
At the 2017 Council of Australian Tribunals (COAT) Conference in June, I spoke to judges, lawyers and academics about the need to pull down the “professional barriers” and interact with us on a human level, understanding the trauma we have suffered. There was a standing ovation at the end of the speech and I don’t believe it was for me. I believe it showed the increasing willingness to change attitudes.
The year also included an in-depth interview with ABC TV’s national One Plus One program. I had the chance to talk about so many important things: why a diagnosis does not define you, how peer work can support recovery, my love for my family. After it aired in January 2017, I was inundated with messages from individuals and families affected by mental health issues, including stories of great suffering. It was overwhelming but it was also galvanising: there is still so much work that must be done. "
Read Ms Jackson's letter about the Strategic Plan.