Coronavirus (COVID-19) Mental Health Resources

The following are focused on Queensland/Australia but there are some international resources. Included are some links with useful general advice as well as services for those with pre-existing mental health issues and their carers. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. If you know of other resources that would be useful, please leave a comment and this list will be added to whenever possible.

Take care, everyone. Look after yourself as well as the significant things you are doing for other people. (And you are ALL doing that – any changes you’ve made will be saving others from having to deal with challenging health issues – so acknowledge your contribution and make sure you take the best care you can of your mental health.)

Head to Health – helping you find the right digital mental health resources for your needs
MindSpot Online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression
ReachOut – Coping during coronavirus (COVID-19)
KidsHelpline (for ages 5yrs-25yrs)– tips and advice as well as ACCESS TO 24/7 support via phone (FREE) 1800 55 1800, email counselling, or  web chat
Beyond Blue COVID-19 mental health support service
Black Dog Institute – COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing resources
Headspace –  How to cope with stress related to coronavirus (COVID-19)
#InThisTogether – the National Mental Health Commission page with tips and links to help with mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus crisis
Queensland Mental Health Commission – COVID-19 and Mental Health
Australian Psychological Society – tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
Arafmi – 24hr carer helpline at 1300 554 660 and online carer support groups
Blue Knot (National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma) – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Factsheets
Australian BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) Foundation Ltd – video ‘Strategies for getting through COVID-19 lockdown for people with BPD
Red Cross – tips for looking after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic
World Health Organisation – Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

Welcome to the website that, like savebarrett.org before it, aims to advocate on behalf of those dealing with severe and complex adolescent mental health issues in Queensland.

After the public rallied in support of the Barrett community over the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol in 2013/14, it has become evident that this area of mental illness – and the services required to enable those affected to lead the best lives possible – remains largely misunderstood … even amongst the most highly trained mental health clinicians. So our objective is to achieve greater understanding – for all involved.

This issue is as severe and complex as the illnesses that it encapsulates. Most people who live and work in this area are simply trying to do their best to minimise suffering and maximise recovery. We join them in that sense of purpose and, in doing so, propose that it is through collaboration that the best outcomes will be obtained. When adolescents, families, friends, carers, clinicians, educators, allied health staff, government representatives, private service providers and the wider community come together with mutual respect, motivated to ensure the best support is available, young people have the best chance to heal.

This site is one small way to try and deepen the understanding that’s needed …

  • It will provide information on what has happened, what is needed, what is planned.
  • It will share links to other resources, entities and agencies.
  • It will suggest ways – big and small – that anyone can help those who benefit so much from just knowing that people really care.
  • It will try to bring people together – encourage acknowledgement of experience, sharing of information, appreciation of insights.

All so that a group of vulnerable people who have previously been (intentionally or unintentionally) overlooked will have access to the kind of help that will make a positive difference to their lives. If any of us can do anything to support those people, we will have done something truly valuable.

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This site is in honour of Talieha, Will and Caitlin … three shining lights who will never fade.

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Project on COVID changes to Brisbane South mental health services

FEEDBACK OPPORTUNITIES for CONSUMERS AND CARERS …

The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health (QAMH) – partnering with Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ), Metro South Addictions and Mental Health Services (MSAMHS) and Brisbane South PHN – is undertaking to assess the system changes in the Brisbane South Region adopted due to pandemic.

To do this, they are looking for people to be involved in

FOCUS GROUPS and INTERVIEWS in February and March

Participants will be remunerated having been chosen for the limited positions based on their Expression of Interest forms.

There will also be opportunities for wider participation through an online survey.

To find out more and access the EOI form go the following website:

Mental Health Service System Changes: Experiences of COVID-19 Project

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NEW MENTAL HEALTH CONSUMER PEAK BODY – Significant roles available

The initiative to establish a new mental health consumer representative peak organisation is set to have a significant impact on the support for those with mental health issues throughout Queensland.

We only have to look at the phenomenal achievements of Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) in the last few years to see how such an organisation can ensure that those directly affected can have their voices not only heard but responded to in the form of ongoing effective services. Without HCQ facilitating significant action on many issues addressing healthcare rights, quality, standards and systems, much vital progress would never have been made.

So to have a peak body that will be able to impact, through policy advice and systems advocacy, the way mental health services are delivered to consumers across Queensland is something that should shape the change necessary to better support the lives and futures of those affected.

“Years in the planning, designed to improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders, the Peak will launch in 2021.

So the Queensland Mental Health Commission and Windsor Group are working together to fill the following key positions:

  • Inaugural Board Chair – 1 position
  • Inaugural Non-Executive Director (Board Member) – 5 positions
  • Inaugural Non-Executive Director (Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander identified position) (Board Member) – 1 position
  • Interim Chief Executive Officer (12-month contract) – 1 position

“People with their own personal lived/living experience of mental ill-health, service use and recovery are strongly encouraged to apply.”

These are remarkable opportunities to play roles that can achieve significant change in a world where mental health requires as much attention as possible.
If you’re not in a position to apply yourself, please spread the word to ensure that individuals with knowledge, experience and dedication can establish this important Peak Body as one that is committed to ensuring what is needed reaches those in need.

For more information click here to go to the Windsor Group webpage on the positions and application process.

And please use the buttons below to share this post (or copy and paste the following shortlink on social media):
https://wp.me/p7lCk2-Jz

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Join the Youth SUSD Service Advisory Committee

Applications close at 9am on Monday, 8 February 2021

If you have lived experience of a Youth Step Up Step Down (SUSD) service or other child and youth mental health service in Queensland Health (QH) whether through direct access or as a carer, you could fill the one seeking consumer representative or carer representative role on the Youth SUSD Advisory Committee. (It’s also noted opportunities would ideally suit those with committee experience – either within Queensland Health or an NGO – and with an interest and some knowledge of Queensland’s public mental health service system.)

Those appointed will participate as at a equal level with others on the Committee in providing advice that will support the system management of the services in Cairns, Caboolture and Logan. This will be in the form of three meetings a year with those for 2021 – to be held online via Microsoft Teams – scheduled for:

  • 15 February (11.00am -12.00pm)
  • 13 July (11.00am -12.00pm)
  • 15 November (11.00am -12 pm)

(Additional meetings may be scheduled as needed.)

Remuneration will be in accordance with HCQ’s remuneration position statement.

For more information on these roles, click here to go to the Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) page listing the vacancies or you can directly the download the MS Word document that has further information along with the application form here.

PEER WORKER role for young person with lived experience of mental health issues

The compassion and understanding that you or someone you know feel/s for others in circumstances that parallel those you/they have experienced can, when you/they are ready, be the basis of a meaningful career.

A Peer Worker role is based on the idea that people who have had lived experience of mental illness and have experienced recovery, with specialised training, can support others experiencing mental health difficulties and can intentionally engender hope by role-modelling recovery in a way that others without a lived experience cannot.

And Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) are currently looking for a YOUTH Peer Worker to fill a Temporary (until 3 July 2021) Part-Time position in the Brisbane Inner City, Brisbane – South areas.

More information about this vacancy (and working for CHQ) is here with a pdf of the job description here.
Applications close on the 5th of February.

Recognition for the Barrett School … a Success, an Asset, a Lifesaver

The Barrett School at Tennyson in Brisbane is a Support School specifically for young people with severe and complex mental health issues.

It is different from hospital schools – even from the education programs for inpatients and Day Program patients at Jacaranda Place (opened this year in response to recommendations from the Barrett Adolescent Centre closure Commission of Inquiry). The Barrett Adolescent Special School is not a school with direct connections to a treatment program or with healthcare professionals onsite. The staff are educators. And the students are young people accessing healthcare in their own communities with their own clinicians and allied health support.

BUT what has been missing from the lives of the young people who find themselves at the Barrett School are the opportunities to learn and develop and see a future with options. The things that come with an education at a place where students are truly understood and respected and empowered.

Each young person at Barrett along with their family/carers will have tried everything before discovering the School. But when mental health issues are so severe that a young person cannot engage with a modified program at a regular school or with a flexi-school (including Qld Pathways Colleges) or Distance Education, they are left isolated. At one of the most important stages of life … when social and emotional development are significant and new experiences facilitate cognitive growth as well as the acquisition of skills and knowledge.

A network of young people and carers facilitated by Health Consumers Queensland has recently put out two short videos describing what is needed by those young people dealing with severe and complex mental health issues where education is concerned. (Pt 1 is here and Pt 2 here.)

And severeyouthmentalhealth.org has released our own video with explanations on the approach required and the needs and circumstances that are its basisWe’ve outlined the model of a Support School like Barrett as well as describing the Tennyson-based School’s particular approach. And we’ve celebrated the Barrett School’s outcomes and value in our ‘Focus on Education’ month.

But the Barrett Adolescent Special School has remained low profile – a dedicated team working to support each student in the way that meets individual needs, interests and aspirations.

Until now.

Yesterday, ABC Radio’s Rebecca Levingston used her role as host of the “Mornings” program to highlight the importance of the Barrett School by interviewing two parents whose stories are ones with familiar tones to the School’s educators. The two families are at different stages of their journeys but share the same deep relief and gratitude that they found a school that finally helped their young people reconnect with education.
You can listen to the program here (with the extensive coverage of The Barrett School between 1:45:50 and 2:05:22) 
In addition, Rebecca has extended her reporting by dedicating her column at inqld.com.au to the achievements of the Barrett Adolescent Special School – allowing her to expand on the interviews that clearly resonated not just for the journalist herself but for her many listeners.
You can read that column – “The Brisbane school where just getting out of the car can be the biggest step” – here.

This small but life-changing service is one based on expert knowledge and the skills of professionals adept in the education of a group of young people whose numbers are sadly growing.

It is hoped that this unique resource will not remain unique for longer. Such an asset should be available to young people far beyond Brisbane.

So please share this post and/or the links contained in it as widely as you can.
And click here to contact the Minister for Education to urge that she commit to establishing programs using this specialised education model to be rolled out across Queensland.

(AND  there is no reason why a innovative government cannot utilise – or even monetise to the advantage of the Queensland taxpayer – what a team of dedicated Brisbane educators have developed to facilitate the use of such a model beyond the state by other service providers.)

Huge congratulations to the Barrett School – its staff and its students. You are all key players in a great success story.

 

 

Report on MENTAL HEALTH by Productivity Commission: a clear directive the Australian government can’t afford to ignore

Yesterday, the Australian government released their Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Report into mental health. And, whether the focus is on the health and welfare of the community OR the economy, it has been spelled out in simple terms:

THERE MUST BE MAJOR REFORM ACROSS AUSTRALIA TO DEAL WITH THE MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

Sadly this crisis existed prior to the global pandemic so the urgency now is even greater.

Some of the actions cited as high priorities include:

  • development and implementation of a new assessment tool to ensure a robust and person-centred approach to assessment and referrals
  • an immediate trial and evaluation of psychology therapy – expanding the number of MBS-rebated treatments to 20 per 12-month period (instead of 10 per calendar year) as well as delaying the need for re-referrals and the use of feedback-informed practice
  • the immediate improvement of emergency mental health service experiences i.e. to ensure that hospitals and crisis response services support a person’s recovery in a safe environment that meets their needs
  • that State and Territory Governments should immediately act to provide child and adolescent mental health beds that are separate to adult mental health wards and if it is not possible to provide these beds in public hospitals, then there must be the capacity to offer alternative services such as hospital-in-the-home, day programs or options where private providers have been contracted to provide services
  • etc.

The report is extensive and even its summary document on Actions and Findings is 74 pages. So there should be no doubt as to what is needed, why and how to begin implementation the vital reforms.

The Productivity Commission makes clear that the cost to all Australians of ignoring what is required  is overwhelming.

The economic benefits of the recommended reforms to Australia’s mental health system were estimated to be up to $1.3 billion per year as a result of the increased economic participation of people with mental ill-health. About 85% of these economic benefits ($1.1 billion) could be achieved from the identified priority reforms alone.

adding that …

… the main benefits of this Inquiry’s recommended reforms would be a substantial increase in the quality of life for a large number of Australians. These gains were estimated to be the equivalent of up to $18 billion per year (an improvement of 84,000 quality-adjusted life years), were the full list of recommended reforms implemented. Ultimately though, the benefits of reform extend to all Australians: those who are currently receiving or require treatment and support for their mental health; their carers, families and colleagues; and those who are well now but may one day seek help for themselves or someone they know. You do not have to be unwell now to benefit from improvements to Australia’s mental health system.

(Australian Government Productivity Commission Inquiry Report on Mental Health, No. 95, 30 June 2020. Volume 1, p14)

So much more could be extracted from this report that those with lived experience have known for far too long.

To read more, the report can be accessed here in its three volumes plus appendices, Actions and Findings and factsheet forms.

And an article on the government’s release of the report by the Guardian is at the following:
“Landmark mental health report calls for $4bn upgrade to care from ‘moment’ a person is struggling”

WE AWAIT THE PRIME MINISTER’S CONFIRMATION THAT ALL ACTIONS WILL BEGIN IMPLEMENTATION AS RECOMMENDED.


 

Specialised Education – How it Works

To conclude our month focussing on education for young people with severe and complex mental health issues, here’s a video that illustrates what’s needed and how it works:

Click to view video on YouTube

 

To read the rest of our October posts, go to:

Education for Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues (5 Oct)

And the GOOD NEWS is … (9 Oct)

Not Patients But Students (15 Oct)

“Who We Are” and What We Need” (22 Oct)

What Learning Means (26 Oct)

 

And please do what you can to advocate for the right kind of education for the young people in your community.


 

What LEARNING Means

We all know that we continue to learn through our lives. That we start learning the day we’re born and continue until Apple has no more devices to invent. So learning isn’t simply about the information that we gain from academic study. It isn’t simply about information at all.

Learning is what we need to do so we can live. Not just to make a living but so that we can do the essential things – move, interact, consume …. so that we can exist effectively and safely within a community of other people. So that we have a sense of who we are and what we want and need and how we might acquire those things.

It’s obvious that some of our most essential learning happens in our very early years. But some of the most important learning for the rest of our lives happens when we develop the understanding that our brains and bodies have evolved to acquire during our adolescence and young adulthood. In formal education – like a classroom. And everywhere else.

Engaging with others and taking on more independence as we physically develop is a pivotal stage of life. So what happens (or doesn’t happen) as we traverse that tightrope from child- to adulthood lays the foundation for the decades to come.

So if we don’t have the opportunities to observe others, test and develop our skills and comprehend the intricacies of autonomous living and functional relationships during that period, that means we don’t progress. We don’t become someone capable of living a productive and safe adult life. We might pass 16 years on the earth, … 17 and then 18 … but if we’ve been stuck somewhere away from classrooms and shopping centres and sporting activities and entertainment venues – different people and places and circumstances  …  then we might be stuck at the social, personal and cognitive development of a 14 year old. Or younger.

Many forces linked to experiencing severe mental health issues can drive a young person to isolate from the world. Despite trying all they can to be part of it. Fear, anxiety, trauma, confusion, hopelessness  … any or all of these things can lead a young person to cut themselves off. Confine themselves – sometimes to just a couple of rooms. For a very long time.

And so they miss out on the learning that happens with their peers, with their community and in environments created by education professionals.

So ONLY an education program that recognises this situation and creates experiences that acknowledge an individual’s level of development and specific needs can support young people who’ve experienced this social isolation to making gradual progress. 

It is not enough to recognise that a young person has missed out on the acquisition of specific areas of knowledge. Because their capacity to then acquire that if presented can never be assumed. A young person must be able to recognise and regulate their emotions, establish and build positive relationships and have the tools to make responsible decisions and handle challenging situations constructively. This is why the Australian curriculum to Year 10 is not just the Maths, Science, English … that are the focus of the senior secondary years. The General Capabilities dimension that includes Personal and Social Capability can be an area that teachers of young people with severe mental health issues may need to implement even when a student is at a senior secondary age.

Personal & Social Capability icon (Australian Curriculum)

Personal and social capability supports students in becoming creative and confident individuals who, as stated in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008), ‘have a sense of self-worth, self-awareness and personal identity that enables them to manage their emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing’, with a sense of hope and ‘optimism about their lives and the future’. On a social level, it helps students to ‘form and maintain healthy relationships’ and prepares them ‘for their potential life roles as family, community and workforce members’ (MCEETYA, p. 9).

Students with well-developed social and emotional skills find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, develop resilience and a sense of self-worth, resolve conflict, engage in teamwork and feel positive about themselves and the world around them. The development of personal and social capability is a foundation for learning and for citizenship.

“The development of personal and social capability is a foundation for learning and for citizenship.”

It’s THAT important.

So
when we acknowledge that young people with severe and complex mental health issues can have missed out on the experiences that facilitate this development, we start to recognise the importance of education programs that see a student as an individual. Not an age. Not a category. Not a disability or a diagnosis. But a unique person with specific needs. AND POTENTIAL.

Good teachers will plan and adapt programs and experiences accordingly.

Great teachers will do that with respect and empathy.

Thank you to all the great teachers who have brought community to a world of isolation. And who have nurtured self-esteem and fostered hope for a brighter future.

Young people with severe and complex mental health issues DESERVE GREAT TEACHERS.

Nothing less.


To read our previous October posts focused on education, go to:

Education for Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues (5 Oct)

And the GOOD NEWS is … (9 Oct)

Not Patients But Students (15 Oct)

“Who We Are” and “What We Need” (22 Oct)

“Who We Are” and “What We Need”

We started our month on education for young people with severe mental health issues by introducing one of the new videos created by the Health Consumers Queensland consumer/carer network – ‘Education for Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues’ (5 Oct). That video – which gives insights into the lives of these young people – is also half of a 2-part series aimed at education service providers (government, private organisations, curriculum designers as well as teachers).

But, in the same way that Part 1 (Who We Are) is able to highlight aspects of what the reality of living with severe and complex youth mental health issues can be, Part 2 (What We Need)’s concise clarity gives indications of the personal perspective that, when shared, can help to properly develop wider understanding of what severe youth mental health issues can actually mean. Especially in relation to the gulf that those directly affected can feel between their experience/needs and what is available to help them – a burden which can add to a situation that’s already overwhelming.

So please share this post or links directly to the videos wherever you see opportunities to raise awareness and/or communicate what’s necessary to ensure the most effective services become available.

CONSUMERS AND CARERS ON EDUCATION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WITH SEVERE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Experiences with Education: Part 1 – Who We Are 

Experiences with Education: Part 2 – What We Need

 


To read our previous October posts focused on education, go to:

Education for Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues (5 Oct)

And the GOOD NEWS is … (9 Oct)

Not Patients But Students (15 Oct)

Two positions for mental health consumers/carers

Amidst our month long focus on EDUCATION for young people with severe mental health issues, opportunities continue for those with lived experience to have a voice where it matters.
Here are two – one with the Queensland Mental Health Commission and the other with the government’s Quality Assurance Committee:

 

Queensland Mental Health Commission – Steering Committee

Closing date: 5pm Thursday, 22 October 2020

Needs-analysis project – mental health non-government community services sector

The Commission is seeking to engage eight (8) people with lived experience of mental illness personally or as a carer to become members of the time-limited Steering Committee that will oversee and inform the needs-analysis project.

The Queensland Mental Health Commission (the Commission) is investing in a needs-analysis of the mental health non-government community services sector to gain a better understanding of the current environment, strengths, challenges, barriers and opportunities. The needs analysis will inform the development of a five-year strategy to enhance, develop and grow the sector.Further information can be found on the Commission’s website – https://www.qmhc.qld.gov.au/

How to apply: Please complete the consumer application form here and return to consumer@hcq.org.au by 5pm Thursday, 22 October 2020.


Queensland Health Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Quality Assurance Committee

(The QAC was established by the Queensland Health Director-General in September 2017. The Committee meets an identified need for quality assurance oversight and improvement of mental health alcohol and other drugs service delivery.)

Closing Date:Wednesday 21 October 2020.

The Queensland Health Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) for Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Services is recruiting up to two (2) representatives to fill available roles on the QAC membership. They are seeking expressions of interest from consumers and carers who have experience with Queensland Health mental health and/or alcohol and drug treatment services.

How to apply: Please complete the consumer application form here and return to consumer@hcq.org.au by Wednesday 21 October 2020.

 

Please share this post or the information wherever you’re able.

Thanks!