The main goal of mental health education is to raise awareness that those who struggle with mental health issues also deserve support, compassion, and the chance to get well, bounce back, and realize their aspirations. Above all, it strives to provide those dealing with such problems the tools and confidence they need to seek help quickly and live their lives with dignity. The CEO of Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT), Heidi Prowse, has long worked selflessly and persistently to create and nurture a space where people may come forward and get the support they require. We share with you this incredible woman’s inspiring path, one that has changed hundreds of lives.
Getting Over Obstacles Early in Life
When Heidi Prowse was only 19 years old and just beginning to realize her potential, she began working. Despite consistently delivering top-notch work, she continued to get bad reviews for her frequently misinterpreted office behavior. Though she was willing to make improvements since she cared about her career and how others saw her, she did take the criticism. She began going to workshops on emotional intelligence.
She claims, “It helped me develop into a powerful and real leader. It showed me how to appreciate other people’s viewpoints, create a variety of connections, foster trust, and accomplish more. Most importantly, it enabled me to lead organizations through transformation in a transparent and accountable manner. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for this knowledge.
When Heidi first met her husband, he disclosed that he had cystic fibrosis and that his life expectancy was limited. In order to raise awareness for the cause, Heidi quickly rose to the position of local manager for the Cystic Fibrosis ACT association.
The Santa Speedo Shuffle was used as a fundraising strategy by her. She urged participants to don speedos and a Santa hat in the midst of Canberra’s winter and sprint around Lake Burley Griffin. 9 of her friends and family members helped her fund $12,500 in the first year.
The fundraising drive enabled them to raise more than $500,000 throughout the first four years. Their main fundraising effort was to acquire money for local families’ urgently needed medical goods, which were not covered by any programs. “The event lit a fire within a dispersed and remote group,” claims Heidi. In 2017, more than 150 people who represented neighborhood families volunteered their assistance. I soon came to see that in order to produce big results that would benefit people, I would need to keep trusting my original concepts that went against the grain and make greater use of technology.
As a result of her efforts, Heidi Prowse was named the 2017 ACT Young Australian of the Year and inducted onto the ACT Women’s Honour Roll.
Since its founding in 1993, MIEACT has provided workshops and first-person accounts of real-life experiences that emphasize recovery, encourage early intervention, raise awareness of mental health issues, and decrease stigmatization fears.
The capacity of volunteer educators to interact directly with small audiences and share their experiences of living with a mental illness is what distinguishes MIEACT from other organizations. Face-to-face interactions like this, supported by a safe and DoNOHarm Framework, are an effective and tried method to lessen stigma-related anxiety. Programs also address stress, body image, PTSD, bullying prevention, communication, and hearing stories safely in addition to the general courses on mental health.
MIEACT offers a number of programs each day in Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory, in secondary schools, companies, and the general public, offering a secure environment for mental health education. Over 850 education sessions were delivered in the last year by the 35 staff members and 40 volunteers of MIEACT, which is roughly 3.5 times more than they were able to do the year before.
The Four E’s of Success according to Heidi: Employees, Empathy, Empowerment, and Excellence
According to Heidi, “At MIEACT, we value our people’s and community’s safety and security above all else. We think that learning happens best when people connect deeply, authentically, and with empathy. Working together to improve people’s lives is our main priority.
Since Heidi shares the company’s guiding principles, she can lead by example. She is a firm believer in putting others before oneself. Employee engagement and motivation are ensured by her acute eye for talent and readiness to develop it.
She does not accept anything less than providing top-notch services because she believes in doing so. She is perfectly aware that organizations must work within their available funds and resources, but she has never allowed these limitations to compromise the caliber of services.
She is adamant that MIEACT still has a ways to go before reaching its full potential. She has the audacity to champion an open growth mentality, which has helped her empower communities, forge alliances, deal with challenging situations, and produce significant outcomes.
An Average Workday and Future Plans
Heidi usually has a coffee in hand as her day begins late. Around ten in the morning, she arrives at work. She will be attending stakeholder meetings and talking to people about her job for the next few hours. When the office starts to get quieter in the afternoon, she works on her strategic tasks, meeting outcomes, and follow-ups. Additionally, she serves as the company spokesperson and frequently communicates with members of the media or gives speeches to diverse audiences.
In reference to MIEACT’s future ambitions, Heidi states that “the following 12 months will focus on significantly increasing the quality of our work following significant development throughout COVID-19. Additionally, we are strengthening our Salesforce interface and online activities, particularly for young people, to advance our digital transformation both internally and outside.
Heidi truly has a different perspective on what success is; she doesn’t consider it something that is attainable. She continually shifts her emphasis to better the lives of those around her while focusing on little goals and milestones. She continues, I consider myself to be “successful” because I feel that my life is full, I am appreciative of what I have, and I am proud of what I have accomplished.
Henry Ford famously remarked, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way, you’re right,” and Heidi firmly believes this to be true. She therefore counsels all other women in positions of authority to “don’t be afraid of failing. Be terrified of not learning, instead.