Give Us Back Our Humanity
Dear Leaders, Premiers, Health officers and others
I am sure that each and every one of us wants this to be over. We want to move on with our lives, work, families and communities.
Many people lost loved ones to Covid-19 or as a result of the fall-out from it. Small businesses and whole economies collapsed under lockdown. Unemployment, suicide, domestic violence, divorce and addiction rates skyrocketed, and global hunger and homelessness doubled. We are a planet and a nation in grief and disarray.
A Sad State of Affairs
(This article was originally published in the Herald Sun on October 10 2020)
I am really missing home, especially my Mum. I miss my Melbourne; the way it was before this mess. I even miss my office and all the meetings I used to have. And I sure miss singing and connecting with audiences.
My husband and I came to NSW for a short holiday in June and here we still are, working and Zooming. Where we are, you’d never know there was a virus. People go about their lives. They go to school, bands and the beach and have friends over for parties, BBQs and dinner. It reminds me how much I miss sharing happy times with friends and community.
How Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy Changed My Life
From Singing to Psilocybin
I don’t drink or smoke. I’ve never taken any drugs till four years ago. Yet today, my life revolves around psychedelic medicines — heavily stigmatized substances still illegal in this country and most others across the world.
How did this happen?
This Is Not Australia
The Seekers’ much-loved chorus lyrics for the iconic song ‘I am Australian’ are:
“We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian.”
This song symbolises a nation whose people, history, culture and landscape are deeply intertwined. It is a song that celebrates both Australia’s diversity and its unity.
My Magic Medicine Journey
I want to start with a snapshot of how I’m probably different from you and a lot of other people.
I don’t smoke. I haven’t been drunk, ever, nor do I really drink alcohol. Before this chapter of my life began, I’d never taken any drugs apart from those prescribed to me by a doctor. I live in Melbourne and I don’t even drink coffee.
Yet today, my life revolves around psychedelics — heavily stigmatized substances still illegal in this country and most others across the world.
I get it. This huge shift is likely confusing to you and it’s one I’d like to outline here in the hope it provides a deeper understanding of why I co-founded Mind Medicine Australia (MMA).
There is no health without mental health
In Australia’s reaction to COVID-19, our lives are being changed profoundly and our liberties curtailed. Without consultation, by federal, state and territory governments. Few have yet fully grasped the gravity of the effects on our wellbeing of this, and what is still to come.
Focusing on saving lives and livelihoods isn’t wrong. But there is no truly good health without good mental health, and given humans are social beings, for most people good mental health requires positive social interaction and hope. Our mobility, work, education, recreation, exercise and, most importantly, our interaction with others is being restricted by authorities. We have to follow the regulations or we face being punished for disobeying them. Right now, it feels as if our careers, dreams and futures are vanishing in front of our eyes.
We need an urgent taskforce to tackle the mental health pandemic sparked by Covid-19
Mental health charity Mind Medicine Australia (MMA) calls for and strongly supports all recommendations to form a Mental Health Innovation Taskforce to be immediately established. This must be established now to guide the government in planning the next steps to manage the increasing mental health pandemic triggered by Covid-19 and the recent bushfires tragedy.
We live in one of the wealthiest countries and we have one of the best medical systems in the World. Yet despite the high calibre of our medical practitioners, and the enormous associated system costs, we also have one of the highest rates of mental illness in the World. These rates are increasing exponentially now.
Experts warn that a long-term mental health pandemic is looming in Australia that will potentially surpass the physical health impacts of the coronavirus. Frontline charities are suggesting that the effects of the current pandemic on mental illness could be “seven times” worse than the spike in mental illness caused by the recent bushfires.
Positive Human Collisions
I work with many wonderful teams and organisations and am always amazed at how many leaders say, “But I am not creative.”
And recently, some futurists said that creativity has become the most endangered species of the 21st century. We have a broadband culture but not the creative, original thought to fill it.
A global study of 1,500 CEOs by IBM showed that in an increasingly complex and uncertain global environment the most important leadership attribute is creativity. We need to be ready to pivot in a rapidly changing world to manage increasing social and economic challenges.
Over the next decade it is estimated that up to 40 per cent of companies on the Standard and Poors index will be disrupted by rapidly advancing technologies and the entrepreneurs adapting quickly to this new environment. According to international research, up to 60 percent of middle-class jobs will become redundant due to robotics and new technologies. And some jobs will continue to exist but will be performed in cheaper labour markets overseas.
We urgently need to train ourselves and emerging leaders to be entrepreneurs: makers and creators of the jobs of the future. We need to build a culture of creativity and innovation to sufficiently develop our capabilities to turn ideas into enterprises.
Below are 12 innovator attributes which we can learn and aspire to and nurture in others:
- Curious: Innovators actively explore the environment, challenge status quo and investigate new possibilities. Ask: “what if…?”
- Persistent: Innovators are never above a task, they are hardworking, persistent and willing to do “whatever-it-takes” to get things done. Never give up!
Inclusion and entrepreneurship the key to innovation
Australia has traditionally been a highly successful and prosperous nation. On almost every important business index, we are accelerating. The stakes – the financial, social, environmental and political consequences – similarly are rising. Being lucky is no longer enough
We lag well behind many other nations on innovation. We have to nurture our entrepreneurs and innovate faster in order keep up with the pace of growth. To compete globally we must welcome, include and empower the many diverse voices of our citizens, migrants and the refugees who are seeking a haven here.