Written by Evan Bichara
[note from Speakers Bank: We thank Evan for sharing this piece; it was one of those he wrote a while back as part of his advocacy work]
An experience when I felt that I was treated with dignity was when I was awarded the Victorian Mental Health Community Award in 2011 in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the people living with Mental Illness and their family carers. The cumulative experience over the many years as a Mental Health Advocate and as an individual of society wanting to help people linked with Mental Illness produced some form of human equality and human respect among those I associated and were affiliated with the many groups I facilitated and convened. This in itself created a rightful sense of valued equality to having dignity or a sense of being worthwhile in the community for not only me but to those I linked to the many groups that I ran. Equal dignity and equal treatment among my peers, no one being favoured more than the other, among my peers with Mental Illness created discovery, recipe for discovering/creating ability for participants to choose their own actions/empower them to become responsive to their chosen actions in life and wisely reach their own destiny towards recovery.
Through this process mentioned above I got to realize that dignity was a state to which ALL humans have a equal potential but which can only be actualised by living around caring people with shared ideas, shared circumstances and shared ways of dialoguing on important issues relevant to them. Through this task they develop worthwhile relationships and accomplish remarkable abilities finding many answers to their many unsolved problems and discover their strengths – enhancing and guaranteeing their human dignity along a path to human perfection – superseding their old negative actions/thoughts which was seeing detrimentally harmful to those who had a Mental Health condition.
So my receipt of this mentioned Community Award and my work in advancing human rights/freedoms through responsively showing to people what human dignity can do/achieve in terms of better social equality, respect for each person and building on a safe/greater quality of life for humans with a Mental Illness and their family/friends created a more caring social environment focused on high values; something that is seeing as good and therefore precedent for human dignity to flourish to other domains/areas of society.
Because I felt rather dignified in receiving the Award through the process mentioned above I was able to role model some of the most significant benefits/human qualities being dignified, being worthy of society and aimed heavily at progressing these sentiments on to others who in turn became worthy/dignified along the way. Some mentioned examples were; a participants of the group becoming a qualified Psychiatric Nurse and currently feels worthwhile contributing to community at large. Other participants have began their own Mental Health groups and feel that they are contributing to society just like I am.
Seeing all these accomplishments being established over the years as I have being working in the Mental Health sector has not only made me feel proud and humble but also worthwhile and gives me great energy, strength and underlying passion to keep continuing as I am doing this precious mission I was given to do in the very beginning.
Another aspect that needs mentioning here is my wife who strives always to treat me with dignity, respect and as a valued partner in our marriage and surely enough I endure to reciprocate this to her.