COPMI - Children of Parents with a Mental Illness - Keeping families in mind

COPMI National Lived Experience Forum

About the role of our lived experience consultants

Carers and participants chatting

The purpose of the COPMI National Lived Experience Forum is to engage people with lived experience (consumers and carers) and use their experiences and perspectives to inform the planning, implementing and evaluation of the COPMI national initiative.

The Forum’s goal is to work in partnership and be a resource for lived experience input into the COPMI national initiative through strong connections with people with lived experience across the Australian states and territories.

The role of Forum members is to:

  • inform and advise the COPMI team on the lived experience perspective across all areas of the COPMI national initiative,
  • be a conduit for information sharing and gathering across networks to promote the COPMI national initiative,
  • be a model of excellence in lived experience partnerships, inclusion and participation, in the dialogue around issues related to children of parents with a mental illness.

In 2013 our forum members were sought from people with a broad range of perspectives and experiences including:

  • parents with a mental illness,
  • partners of a parent with a mental illness,
  • young people and adult children of a parent with a mental illness,
  • carers of a child (under 18 years) who has a parent with a mental illness (e.g. grandparent, carer, foster carer, sibling).

Meet the Forum Members

New members were elected for the 2012-2014 funding period.  Forum members meet regularly, both face-to-face and via teleconference.

Read about Forum members.

Anne-Marie, Brisbane QLD

"I am 17 years old and currently in grade 11. I hope to be accepted into a Certificate III in Aged Care for next year to help me get a kick start into nursing courses when I graduate from school. I have a parent with a mental illness."

Brooke, Sydney NSW

"I am an adult child of two parents with mental illness. My younger brothers have also suffered with mental health issues. I have recently gotten involved with COPMI and hope to contribute as much as I can using the experiences I have had throughout my life to help those in similar situations."

Colleen, Adelaide SA

"I am a mother of two children and experienced post-natal depression after both of my children were born. I also grew up with both parents having mental health issues, along with my grandmother and aunty having depression and anxiety. I believe that growing up with these key people played a large part in my personality and coping tools for life. I believe that if we can improve life for a child this can only be a benefit to everyone, especially the child. COPMI is about changing the vlaue of the child for the better and strengthening the family unit, no matter what it looks like."

Fred, Wodonga VIC

"Hi, I have been a carer for my wife and we had four children aged between 10 and 16 years when our journey began. I have worked as a Family/Carer Support Worker and am part of the MHCA National Consumer and Carer Register serving on a number of national committees. I have also run young carer programs in my local area. I am passionate about mental health reform and in particular carer supports and recognition of the legitimate role of young carers."

Jane, Canberra ACT

"I am a mother of two boys aged 9 and 12. I have been a single parent for seven years and over this time I have been learning to manage my depression and bipolar. I have been actively involved in volunteer education in schools and community groups, and presenting and interviewing on a community radio show aimed at reducing stigma around mental illness. The COPMI Forum is a brilliant avenue for creating change where it really counts - children."

Jennifer, Sydney NSW

"I am a sister, wife and mother of family members who all suffer from mental health issues. I have a wealth of lived experience which I would like to draw on to help and support others. My particular interest of late is information and additional support for my pre-schooler grandson." 

John, Turners Beach TAS

"John is married to Nani and together they have three children under 12. After working in the paper industry as a chemical engineer for nine years, John became the lead pastor of a growing church in the North West of Tasmania. After eight years in this role, depression struck but wasn’t diagnosed until it was almost too late. Finally during a time of contemplating suicide John sought help. Today at 42, he is in recovery and having re-organised his priorities and values works part-time in Anglicare’s Family Mental Health Support Service and is a stay-at-home dad for the rest of his time. He is passionate in particular about men’s mental health and in his spare time can be found on the water somewhere fly fishing for Tasmania’s famed wild trout." 

Kerry, Perth WA

"As a mother of three beautiful young children whose father developed severe schizophrenia over the course of their young lives, I am acutely aware of the many difficulties facing children who have a parent with a mental illness. By participating in this organisation I hope to make a difference in the lives of other families facing similar situations."

Kham, Sydney NSW

"I am a father of 3 beautiful young girls. I grew up in the late 60’s with 5 brothers, losing my mother to suicide in my late teens and seeing how depression can affect my family through my wife’s eyes. Having grown up as a first generation Laotian refugee in Australia, I can see how mental illness is not discuss or talked about in the community. I am determined to break this barrier so my children do not have to suffer in silence should they ever have to face the same circumstances. I am proud to be associated with COPMI so together we can break this barrier of stigmatisation and raise awareness now and for future generations to come." 

Lee-Anne, Gympie QLD

"I am a mother of two young men. I am experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and feel quite uneasy with the world. My passion is assisting others to be empowered and implementing sustainable relationships within the community. One of my strengths is identifying needs and creating pathways for effective change. I love my family and wish to use my skills and knowledge to support the COPMI goals." 

Louise, Sydney NSW

“As a child of the 1960s and 1970s I grew up in a world where mental illness was seldom discussed and stigmatised more than today. My interest is in raising awareness of the needs and experiences of children of parents with a mental illness towards a strong sense of themselves, good mental health and future parenting. I am a member of the MHCA National Register of Mental Health Consumers and Carers.” 

Sarah, Adelaide SA

"I grew up in a single parent household with a mother who had a mental illness. Now I have two children of my own and have been living with a mental illness myself since I was a teenager, I fully understand the impact that mental illness has on children. I am passionate about promoting awareness and supporting children of parents with a mental illness and look forward to making a difference in the work I will be doing with COPMI." 



To date our forum members have overwhelmingly reported that belonging to the forum has enriched their lives and been personally rewarding and allowed them to contribute in some unexpected ways.

If you would like to contact any of the Forum members, please do so via COPMI's Lived Experience Coordinator, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


See also


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