Charlene Sunkel

Job role: 
Program Manager: Advocacy & Development
Member type: 
Service User Representative/Advocate
Brief Biography: 

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1991 where her journey that followed exposed her to the challenges experienced by persons with mental disorders within and outside of the mental health sector. This encouraged her to commit herself to fighting the cause for mental health and human rights.

In 2003 she got involved in volunteer work in the field of mental health, in 2006 accepted a position in mental health advocacy and awareness with a Gauteng based organisation, in 2014 she joined the South African Federation for Mental Health as programme manager for advocacy and development.

She has written and produced theatre plays on life stories of persons living with mental disorders (including one on her life with schizophrenia), and written and produced a short feature film based on the storylines of the theatre plays – to raise public awareness.

She has written articles for medical journals like The Lancet (Empowerment and Partnership in Mental Health), The Lancet Psychiatry (Mental Health Services – Where do we go from here?), chapters in the book series titled Advancement in Psychology Research, amongst other publications.

She serves on a number of national and international boards and committees: Advisory Board of the Movement for Global Mental Health; Editorial Advisory Board of the Lancet Psychiatry; Management Board of the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorders Alliance; Presidential Working Group on Disability; Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health; Disability Employment Concerns Trust; and amongst others.

Awards received: Special Achievement Award (SA Federation for Mental Health, 2006); Chairman’s Award for Advancing Psychosocial Rehabilitation (Talisman Foundation, 2011); National Disability Awards (Inseta: Finalist Champion Award, Finalist Woman Award, Winner Woman Award, 2011); Special Achievement Award for Innovative Programme in Psychiatric Disability (SA Federation for Mental Health, 2012); Award of Excellence in the field of Mental Health (SA Federation for Mental Health, 2014); Jim Birley Scholarship Award (Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry, Netherlands, 2015); Tributes Excellence Awards, Disability Rights category (Valhalla Arts, South Africa, 2015).

Regions of interest: 
Disorders of interest: 
All disorders
South Africa
Charlene Sunkel

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