Meet Adam Silver, a young and dynamic community member with a lived experience of mental health.

In October last year, Adam addressed a crowd of over 200 people at JewishCare's Brave Talks about his diagnosis and the stigma associated with a mental health diagnosis.

In October last year, Adam addressed a crowd of over 200 people at JewishCare's Brave Talks about his diagnosis and the stigma associated with a mental health diagnosis.  Both Adam and his mother, Shelana traversed the often very rocky and challenging landscape that is the world of trying to get help and support – their story is one of hope in the face of an enormous challenge.

In Adam's words, "the show started" about four years ago when he had his first episode.  Despite medication, things got worse.  His mum Shelana, his greatest advocate, contacted JewishCare to help him and the family navigate a very uncertain future.

Spending three years moving between doctors, Adam was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, a lifelong illness that would need medication and support.

JewishCare advised the family to apply for an NDIS plan and allocated them a dedicated support worker who would act on their behalf.

"It's crucial if you have any disability, even a psychosocial disability, that you have this help.  What you receive by being a participant of the NDIS removes the burden of being able to give your loved one, your child or yourself the best possible professional care to ensure that you can put your life back together and move on in the best possible way.  And you can do that without the financial burden.  Adam's care would cost us over $30,000 or $40,000 a year, which the NDIS covers.  It's unaffordable to the average family to pay this," says Shelana.


After initially having their application rejected, JewishCare together with impact statements from both Shelana and Adam, were instrumental in helping the Silver's to secure this vital support package.  While waiting for the review, JewishCare provided all the services Adam required to help him get through his daily life.  This critical support allowed him  (he pays rent) to access services under community funding that is available thanks to generous donors.


AS part of the process, Adam was allocated a caseworker through youth services, and the family received some therapeutic support through the psychologists at JewishCare, enabling them to unpack and understand the impact it had on them.  What wasn't available through JewishCare at the time were the professional services that Adam required immediately, which included ongoing psychology and psychiatry assistance.  The good news is that the organisation is moving towards a clinical model that will make this possible for people needing it in the future.


"It's this vision from JewishCare, being able to provide those services to people who need them in a very, very timely and cost-effective manner, that will change lives and, I'm convinced, will save lives", continues Shelana.

"Because I understand what it is to have somebody tortured and hurting so much from an illness they cannot control.  And they cannot find the peace that they need without assistance.  And if you can't get that assistance, you may decide to find that peace in , tragic and traumatising ways for families.  So, with the care available, I hope that will prevent families from going through that trauma."


Predominantly funded through JCA, CSG is integral to our communal landscape. The CSG’s Mission is to Protect Jewish Life and Jewish Way of Life


While generally, the community is not privy to all the behind-the-scenes work, there has been more than one occasion where Gaby has finished a shift thinking: “it was a good thing that a team was on the ground.  It was a good thing that I was there today.”


She talks about the friendships that form when people with a common purpose come together.

Professionally Shelana has always been on the fundraising side of the equation and, several years ago, was approached by JewishCare to work within their disability team.  Working on the inside, she sees a place that embraces you.  It's warm and encouraging, and there is a pathway for everybody You do not need to carry a burden alone.


"If I had to say to donors that were giving money to JCA, I would tell them that the impact that JewishCare had on my family at a time when  we felt overwhelmed by the impact mental illness has on a family. You are the reason why my family felt embraced and that my family felt heard."


In their impact statement to the NDIS, Shelana said,

"All parents have a special bond with their children.  They conceive and then nurture them, helping them grow towards adulthood.  This bond strengthens over the years as parents and the children develop dreams, hopes and aspirations for the future.  And unfortunately, life does not always unfold as one expects or wishes.  loosing a child to mental illness requires one to overcome the grief of loss, and the strength to recalibrate and refocus on new realities.


"Early on, I learned how resilient we must be as life throws these curveballs at us.  As a mother, I was devastated when my son became ill.  It didn't take long, however, to realise that this was not about me; it was about an illness that Adam could not help and could not have avoided.  The more I learn, the more I understand how much professional medical support and prescribed medications Adam will need for the rest of his life.  This is a lifelong illness.  He may not be able to  hold down a full-time job due to the unpredictability of hisillness.  He is committed to  completing a university degree regardless how long it may take. .  As I have learned more about mental illness, I have also come to understand how difficult it is to deal with it in society.  Stigma, the media, incorrect presentation, and lack of understanding make people nervous or fearful.  Adam badly wants to, fit in, live independently, and have a job and a family one day.  He wants to hold on to what he has lost because of his mental illness.  My son was an intelligent, high-achieving young man.  He scored a top HSC result and secured a place in engineering and commerce at two leading universities.  He had friends, and a future.  Now, I hold on to the hope that with the right support programs and professional people in his life, he will be able to regain some sense of normality and live his best life contributing to his community and society.  Whatever he chooses, we will always love and support him".


Adam is also hopeful for the future and passionate about destigmatising the conversation.  "Not only will people without lived experience be more understanding, but I feel a little better every time I talk about it.  If I can talk about it instead of hiding and fearing the stigma, I know that past diagnoses will improve yearly.  My hope for this year is that it's another year of health, support and love and that I will make some lifelong, real friends – and even a girlfriend."


On his mum Shelana, Adam is effusive in his praise," My mum is my rock, my fighter, she's been my everything.  In the past few years of recovery, I wouldn't have been able to have gone even a minute more without her.  She's been someone who is fighting for me in my corner.  She's battled every step to get me to where I am; she's my saviour.”