Daniel Jopp – Journey into Mental Health

Daniel Jopp is a Kamilaroi man who grew up in Newcastle but is originally from Kempsey. He graduated at the age of 35 from a Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health) at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in 2013.

Daniel started out working as an Aboriginal Health Education Officer and in this role he worked on a couple of health promotion projects in the Alcohol & Other Drug (AOD) field in 1999. He then pursued a clinical role and worked as a paramedic for a while.

“Eventually I got back into health and did the male role in AOD and mental health,” said Daniel. “I chose to work with my people to overcome obstacles and lead a fulfilling life that will see them empower themselves and their friends.”

“I finished Year 12 in 1995 and was the only Aboriginal person in year 12,” said Daniel. “There was no support there and whilst doing year 12 I had a son, so I was working and doing my Higher School Certificate (HSC). From there I went straight into work. It wasn’t until later in life that I was informed about further education options which I pursued.”

“Uni is challenging within itself,” said Daniel. “But what I believe is that everyone in my class came with a story; experience that consisted of strengths and weaknesses. By identifying these, my classmates and myself, we empowered each other and that support was an added bonus. Also the Djirruwang program at CSU undertook new guidance and change whilst I was a student. The lecturers and course co-ordinator implemented strategies and change to make the degree and students accountable and this gave a positive direction to adult learning.”

“My wife Taslene was very supportive and at times in the last year when I lost motivation she was a driving force to keep me in,” said Daniel. “The other important person was my manager Steve Ella, who was supportive and provided insight into academic learning and helped me achieve my goals.”

“What I love most about my profession is working with clients,” said Daniel. “I also enjoy the opportunity to teach up and coming health workers about social emotional wellbeing and how to bridge the gap in education and acknowledge the work they do in their communities through the stories they share.”

“To anyone who is thinking about it, I would recommend a career in Aboriginal mental health if you have a passion and willingness to learn,” said Daniel. “You’re never too old.”

In the future, Daniel hopes to pursue a career as a University lecturer.