Our founding members:
Sarah K Reece, Mental Health Peer Work Cert 4
Sarah has been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and started at Mifsa (Mental Illness Fellowship South Australia) as a ‘participant’ during a life crisis. She became involved in their Hearing Voices group Sound Minds as a participant and then facilitator for several years. From the principles and values of that group, Sarah developed a peer-facilitated, non-clinical group for people experiencing dissociation and/or multiplicity; Bridges. Sarah has driven the development of the DI from the outset, and devoted hundreds of unpaid hours to the development and maintenance of resources. For more information and contact details, please see About Sarah
Ben Swift, B.A. (Hons Psych)
- (08) 8378 4100
Team Leader of the Education and Therapeutic Groups department at Mifsa, Ben is passionate about mental health and has a particular interest in supporting the delivery of services in partnership with the people for whom they are designed. Ben has facilitated the Hearing Voices group at Mifsa for many years. When he met Sarah he heard the need, saw the potential, and nurtured the development of educational talks, staff training workshops, and the support group Bridges, which he co-facilitated.
Cary Nayda, B.Psychological Science, B. Social Science (Human Services)
Cary worked at Mifsa in the PHaMs program and agreed with Sarah that there was a lack of information and resources around dissociation. She also has Dissociative Identity Disorder and is deeply committed to raising awareness and creating resources for other people struggling with dissociation. Cary volunteered her time with the DI, co-facilitating Bridges for the first six months of the group, giving presentations and writing papers. Her honors thesis explored the relationship between dissociation and eating disorders. In 2010, Cary was interviewed about her DID for SBS Insight, you can see her interview here.
The Story So Far…
In 2010, three people involved at Mifsa, two employees and one ‘participant’ came together informally to discuss the lack of support, information, and resources for people who experience troubling dissociation. We decided to change things, starting by writing and delivering our first presentation at Mifsa in September of 2010 to introduce people to how Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) works.
We then gathered feedback from people about what resources were needed most urgently. When we ran community consultation events, the resources most often asked for were access to good information, and a face to face regular support group. From that, the welcome pack and information brochures, the DI library, and the first face to face group Bridges, was created. Bridges ran weekly for 2 & 1/2 years until other work commitments meant Sarah needed to withdraw from such an involved project. The Online Discussion Group is still running. We also liaised with peer workers in Melbourne and supported the creation of another group Echoes.
Our initial focus was to fill a gap we perceived in the services Mifsa offered. We enjoyed tremendous support within Mifsa to be able to do this, including access to free facilities and printing and posting of the Welcome Packs, but the requests for support kept coming in. Our focus became broader, we wanted to educate, support, and create resources throughout Australia and internationally. To this end, we gathered a group of interested people to form a board, and the DI incorporated in August 2012. Unfortunately, while passionate about the DI, none of the the board members had any experience being on a board or running a Not-for-Profit. The board disbanded due to inexperience and other projects needing people’s time.
Sarah has ‘held the space’ since that day, privately funding the DI as is but unable to grow it further without funds or support. Other volunteers came on board to help support certain resources, but the DI itself was in stasis. In July 2014, Sarah decided to turn her mental health expertise into a freelance business, and use that to sustain the DI. The DI may change structure again down the track, but for now this gives it a foundation and keeps it alive and connecting people to information and resources. Sarah is committed to maintaining the DI as a free community network.
Shelley Heath, Social Work Student
Shelley has supported the DI Online Discussion Group as an admin for a couple of years.