The Wellness Empowerment Movement (WEM) is a social movement focused on empowering those with chronic illness and disability to unite, support and define themselves and their needs - through sharing their experiences.
Together, we will:
1. Give a VOICE to those with chronic illness
Often the disabled are seen and not heard, and for those with invisible illnesses unfortunately are not usually seen or heard by society. Providing a platform for you to be listened to and share your perspective is central to WEM's mission. As the largest consumer of health care worldwide, it is important we have a voice to contribute to the service design and direction of health services to ensure they are supportive, person-centred and shaped to deliver more positive health outcomes.
Health care services are there to listen to us, but first we need a voice. This is compatible with the Australian National Safety and Quality in Health Services (NSQHS) Standard 2 - Partnering with Consumers where services can look to WEM and our network of those who have chronic illnesses to better understand patient experience and complexities.
2. Give a FACE to a statistic
Statistics surrounding different medical conditions, while incredibly useful, are a dehumanised representation of human experience. We want to give a face to the statistic and bring back the human aspect, story and impact on quality of life that is portrayed by these facts. It is a lot harder to ignore data and a lot easier to understand the reality when it comes from a face or story that could very easily be that of a loved one. This can hopefully breed more compassion and empathy amongst the unaffected.
3. Give a STORY to a name
Whether it is the name of an individual, a diagnosis, an experience or a feeling - there is a story behind it that needs to be heard. A story can bring understanding to both the author and the reader, and have the potential to create feelings of validation, comfort, courage, solidarity and belonging. There is so much we are able to learn and gain from sharing of insights and perspectives.
4. Give a KNOCK to a stigma or stereotype
Whilst there are legal frameworks and procedures to reduce discrimination - someone treating you in a negative way because of your state of health - there are many unjustified and harmful stigmas that have formed great misconceptions on how people with compromised well-being are seen by society.
Through sharing our experiences with chronic illness - even anonymously - we can challenge the mainstream view on how certain medical conditions and us with chronic illness/disabilities are seen.
Stigma has the power to compromise positive health outcomes through worsening mental and emotional toll of illness, increasing isolation of those with health challenges and even causing people to not seek help when unwell. We have the power to re-create a collective identity.
5. Give a COMMUNITY to the isolated
Chronic illness has been linked to social isolation - both isolation causing chronic illnesses, and chronic illnesses creating isolation. There is no doubt that being unwell can be lonely - hospital admissions, tests, procedures - so often alone physically, and more often alone emotionally to comprehend and find words to express your experience. It is too easy to assume you are the only one who feels the way you do - however there are many people who may at least relate to a portion of your experience. This is why community and peer-support is a huge foundation of WEM.
We have our WEM Facebook peer support network, and through our social media and podcast in-the-making we are able to create a community that can transform loneliness and isolation into belonging and acceptance.
We are always on the look out for personal stories:
Whether you are someone with chronic illness/disability, a carer or support person - we would love to hear your story and perspective, even anonymously! You can get in contact with us to share your story here.
WEM does not give or substitute medical advice, please see our disclaimer. We aim to provide the consumer a platform to share experiences on what has empowered them to navigate their healthcare with confidence. It is also a safe space to shine the light on issues you have encountered while navigating illness, so we can try and do something about it!
WHAT IS A CHRONIC ILLNESS?
a medical condition that lasts 1 year + and;
requires ongoing medical management/treatment;
limits typical daily activities