Change makers: Speak and Share

Image of advertisement

n this Change Makers feature, we explore the vision of Speak & Share, an Australian organisation aimed at dismantling the stigmas surrounding mental health.

15 November 2023

Through our conversation with co-founder Ben Farish, we gain insight into how Speak & Share is building a culture of openness and understanding, one story at a time.

How have your personal experiences and the beginnings of Speak & Share in 2021 influenced the direction of the organisation?

Speak & Share was founded by three close friends who have shared the best of times together and supported one another during life’s toughest moments. Like many, we’ve faced the heartbreak of losing a close friend to suicide, grappled with the loss of a family member in a workplace accident, and endured the separation of our parents. Together, we’ve managed to navigate these challenges and emerge stronger.

In early 2021, the seed for Speak & Share was sown.  During the pandemic, we knew people were struggling, the impact of lockdowns was entrenching isolation, and it also led to some significant changes in our own lives. As teachers, we wondered, “What more could we do?” The three of us knew that we wanted to positively impact our community, and here we are today, motivated to encourage vulnerability and build upon a positive community culture.

As certified teachers with years of experience working with the youth, we’ve seen the profound impact of lockdowns. Our friendship solidified when we noticed a shared desire to help others. Now, driven by this mutual passion, our goal is to diminish the stigma surrounding mental health and to make discussions about well-being a routine part of conversations, whether with friends, colleagues, or the broader community.

What drives the core mission of Speak & Share?

At the heart of Speak & Share’s mission is the unwavering commitment to reshape community culture surrounding mental health. We recognise the immense challenges and struggles many Australians face, and the ripple effects these challenges can have on families, friends, and the broader community. Our goal is to provide comprehensive education on mental health strategies, ensuring that every individual has the tools and resources they need. We believe that with informed support and a united community, we can significantly reduce the harrowing impacts of mental health issues and envision a future where no individual in Australia feels isolated in their mental health journey.

The sunflower is a poignant symbol for Speak & Share. Can you tell us what drew you to choose this emblem for your organisation?

The sunflower, renowned for its resilience and strength, is a significant symbol for Speak & Share. We were drawn to this emblem because of its powerful symbolism of endurance and tenacity, which aligns perfectly with our mission. Like the sunflower, which can endure some of the warmest days of summer by standing tall, Speak & Share aims to empower individuals to weather the challenges they face and find their voice.

Furthermore, the sunflower is also a symbol of long life, representing the lasting impact we aspire to have on the lives of those that we connect with. It embodies the idea that through perseverance and strength, individuals can overcome adversity and continue to grow, just as a sunflower thrives in even the harshest conditions.

In choosing the sunflower as our logo, we wanted to create a logo that would not only stand out, but also be vibrant and wearable, reflecting the energy and positivity that we seek to bring to our community. It serves as a visual representation of our commitment to supporting individuals on their journey towards speaking and sharing.

Can you share your aspirations and long-term vision for the direction of Speak & Share?

Speak & Share aims to rise as a leading force in Australia’s mental health landscape. Our ambition is not just to be recognised but to effect meaningful, lasting change within our community. By driving innovative initiatives and building genuine connections, we envision ourselves at the forefront of mental health advocacy, creating a legacy of positive impact for generations to come.