Interview with: Karolina Aslimoska, ANZMH Association Study Grant Recipient

We believe everybody should get the chance to pursue their ambitions of creating greater change for our community. To help achieve this, we introduced the 2020 Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association study grant, a $5,000 bursary to assist individuals wanting to pursue studies in mental health.

Karolina Aslimoska was one of the grant’s recipients. Find out more about her story, and how she hopes to create great change in the mental health space.

What inspired you to apply for the ANZMH Association study grant?

 I’m from a migrant family and grew up quite poor with a single mother who did her best raising us, encouraging me to do well with school. I struggle with mental health issues myself and find it difficult to simultaneously juggle work and study, so the bursary will help a great deal in navigating university and expenses!

Why is mental health important to you?

 I have always struggled with these issues since childhood and have a lot of empathy for others, which is where my interest in psychology began. I also have first-hand experience in the way mental health problems are stigmatised/misunderstood in society and even by health practitioners who may contribute to this stigma.

What change would you like to see in Australia’s approach to mental health?

 I’d like to see the end of stigma, individualisation and paternalistic/biological determinist treatment of those with mental health issues. I believe people are not given as much respect, information and treatment choices as they deserve, and are often harmed by inappropriate treatments, shame and unsympathetic ears along their journey.

There is a major lack of public mental health funding, with a large service gap between therapy sessions in the community and hospitalisation. Sufferers may find themselves too sick for community treatment and not sick enough for hospital, relying on medications until the year clocks over for their next ten psychologist sessions.

Poverty is a social problem that brings about many issues of which mental health is one, yet people in poverty will struggle to find adequate publicly-funded treatment until their problems worsen to the point of hospitalisation. Tackling poverty, more funding and early treatment is key to improved mental health in the community.

Is there anybody in particular who inspired you to get into the industry?

I was inspired by my school counselor – her kind words and ability to listen got me through many difficult years.

What do you hope to achieve with your studies?

I hope to provide a holistic approach to mental health issues in clients and the community, an empathetic approach which acknowledges the impact of poverty and disadvantage.

I’d like to build on the strengths of clients so that treatment inspires them with the confidence to advocate for themselves, and to change their community for the better!