Disability Expo and Conference

Local poet, playwright and disability advocacy leader will be one of the motivational speakers participating in the Disability Conference at Gallagher Estate from 1 to 3 November.

Charlene has written a play titled “Madness Revealed” about her life experiences living with schizophrenia. Aimed at raising awareness and understanding about one of the most misunderstood psychiatric impairments, “Madness Revealed” is based on the real-life experience and struggle of a woman with schizophrenia. Her struggle covers difficulty at work and at home, psychiatric treatment, degradation and despair in institutions, her courage and determination, and her eventual re-integration into society.

Commenting on why she wrote the play, Charlene says: “After my experiences in psychiatric institutions and experiences as an individual in the community with a psychiatric condition, I discovered that people with mental illness are abandoned, forgotten and even not perceived as human beings. Stigma and discrimination proved to be a major part of the picture. Abuse of patients in some state psychiatric hospitals also came to light and which I have experienced myself. I made the decision to advocate for people with mental illness and fight against the challenges and problems we are faced with in the workplace, community, family, and medical field.”

Charlene actively advocates for people living with mental illness. She serves on the committee of the “Bipolar And Related Disorders Association of Tswhane” (BARD). She also served on the editorial committee of the “Walk My Way” journal, run by Central Gauteng Mental Health Society.

As a result of her involvement in advocating for people with psychiatric disorders, she has become a sought-after public speaking on the matter at various events related to mental illness such as the “Walk My Way” Journal Launch in April 2005; Casual Day at Department of Trade and Industry in September 2005; Psychiatry Trends Workshop at Baragwanath Hospital in September 2005; Disability Conference/Expo 2005. She also does ongoing presentations on the “Walk My Way” Journal at psychiatric facilities.

In recognition of her contribution to advocating for people with mental illness, Charlene received a Special Achievement Award in September from the South African “Federation for Mental Health.

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