The role of the guest speaker is vital to the SKIPS program.
The carer guest speaker in Staff Workshop 2 is someone who has had a personal experience in growing up with a parent with a mental illness.
The guest speaker shares aspects of what life is /was like for them living with a parent with a mental illness, the impact of school on their coping.
This presentation enhances staff knowledge immensely as hearing about a personal experience is often the most powerful way of increasing understanding.
The final classroom workshop builds on the theme that a person is a person and not an illness. This session aims to give children a sense of the reality of mental illness by introducing them to a guest speaker who is a person who lives with a mental illness.
The guest speaker’s story is the centrepiece of this session as it provides children with the opportunity to ask questions to a real person and helps reduce some of the negative perceptions that may exist about mental illness.
Guest speakers need to be confident and comfortable in sharing aspects of their personal story and should be supported in their role.
Accessing guest speakers can be made easier by contacting organisations such as ARAFMI Carers Australia, and Community Mental Health Support Program such as PHaMS (Personal Helpers and Mentors Service) or contact SKIPS National co-ordinator.
As the legislation regarding use of guest speakers in classrooms differs across Australia; please check with each school about using guest speakers in the presentation of SKIPS, to ensure all appropriate procedures are met.