Dr Leanne Craze has dedicated her life to understanding and breaking down the stigma attached to mental illness since she was a child.
Today, her hard work was officially recognised when she received a Member of the Order (AM) as part of the Queen’s birthday honours.
The Glen Alpine resident thought it was bad news, not good news, when the official letter arrived weeks ago informing her of the award.
“When the letter arrived my immediate though was ‘I’m in trouble’,” she said.
“I thought ‘what’s this official letter?’.
“But when I opened it I was pretty shocked and I stood in the corridor speechless.”
Dr Craze first experienced mental illness as a young child.
Her father died when she was five which triggered episodes of bipolar in her mother.
“Our family in those days, like many other, didn’t know much about it (the condition) or what to do,” she said.
“There wasn’t much information available.
“So I took it upon myself to see what was wrong.
“i spent many hours in Guildford Library trying to find out what I could about mental illness.”
Dr Craze’s extensive resume is impressive.
She was a board member of the NSW Mental Health Association, was the chairperson of the Mental health Services Sub-committee,was a part-time member of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal and also worked with the Department of Health and Ageing.
Even when she didn’t take a job specifically in mental health, it was always a theme that reoccurred.
“Over the years I have worked in homelessness, housing and justice. Those area kept me coming to mental health,” she said.
“There’s always been a desire to see what difference can be made and to try and chip away at the stigma and discrimination that people with a mental illness can feel and experience.
“There’s also been a desire to change attitudes so it is seen for what it is – another normal experience in life that can be treated.
“There have been a lot of changes and a lot of progress.
“We’ve come a long way but there is still a fair way to go.”
Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who approved this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list, congratulated Dr Craze and all the other 890 award recipients.
“Since 1975 these awards have helped to define, encourage and reinforce Australian goals and values,” he said.
“They identify role models who give without thought of recognition or personal gain.
“We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to dedicate themselves to the betterment of our nation and it is only fitting that they have today been recognised through the Australian honours system.”