Mental Health


18 July, 2022

Here at the Hunter Volunteer Centre, we inspire volunteering, but not only that, we inspire people to be the best version of who they are.  We want people to have the confidence to participate in volunteering and be in a supporting environment.

Over the coming months, we, at the Hunter Volunteer Centre, will bring you tips, information and educational material on mental health, as well as aspects of having a mental illness and struggling to find the right environment to work in.

Mental health is:

A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities.  Can cope with the normal stresses of life.  Can work productively and fruitfully.  Is able to contribute and assimilate with the community.

Mental illness is:

A recognized, medically diagnosable illness that results in the significant impairment of an individual’s cognitive, affective or relational abilities.  Mental disorders result from biological, developmental and/or psychosocial factors and can be managed using approaches comparable to those applied to physical diseases (i.e. prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management).


‘Mental health and mental illness are used interchangeably, but mental health and mental illness are not the same thing; however, they are also not mutually exclusive’


So why are we talking about this very important topic?  Well firstly, COVID-19 highlighted the importance of a good mental health.  Secondly, it has created an awareness of poor mental health in the workplace.

We will also go as far as saying that the “Australian Human Rights Commission says good mental health in the workplace leads to

  • Improved productivity
  • Creates a safe and healthy business
  • Improves the bottom line
  • Promotes a positive work culture
  • Attracts and keeps great talent
  • It’s the law


A Lived Story

I still have tears to this day!  I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 in my late 30’s.  (Bipolar 1 is characterized by one or more manic episodes.  Bipolar 2 never experiences a manic episode).

I had a great childhood, private schools, fun family overseas holidays and a wonderful country lifestyle.

I lived overseas for many years.  Travelling to interesting places such as; Prague, Budapest, Paris, Cyprus, Krakow, Turkey and even the Solomon Islands.

On my return to home I embarked on a nursing degree and some years later a law degree, completing both.  I worked in both professions here in Newcastle, as well as in Sydney.

However, in my first year of law, I was diagnosed with Bipolar.  It took four weeks in a locked psychiatric facility for psychiatrists to make this diagnosis.

From there, it has turned my life upside down.  Mainly due to my own ignorance to it and not fully accepting it.  I was hiding it from the rest of the world, including my employers.  I guess you could say I was embarrassed. I tried desperately to mask it, however that sometimes made it worse.

My biggest struggle, has been my inability to maintain and retain a stable work life & career.   Mostly feeling like “I didn’t fit in” and an “inability to control my moods”.

After losing my last job as a registered nurse, and experiencing bullying and an unsupportive employer, I was left unable to return to nursing.  This was soul destroying.

I have now had a long period out of work and have found it hard to get back into paid employment.  Subsequently my CV looks like one big job-hopping expedition.


Finding the right environment

That is why I came to the Hunter Volunteer Centre where I’ve found an environment that is incredibly supportive. I like working with the team and it has given me back my purpose and my worth as a person.

You may ask, why am I being so open and honest about my story?  “Well, if I may put it this way, “when my story becomes about, mental health and a mental illness, struggles or not, possessions, appearance, things we like, things we hate, then it is the very epitome of life.” It is time to tell my story in the hope that it helps another through a similar story.

Finding the right environment, job, and employer can make all the difference.  Knowing what does and does not work, is the optimal situation to be in.


“I’m happy to get the conversation going”  Julia Busquets