Focus on Education

At a time when many adolescents across Queensland are enjoying school holidays, it’s worth remembering that there are no holidays from mental illness. And for a number of young people and their families/carers affected by severe and complex mental health issues, there are, in essence, no schools or education services either.

When the idea of leaving home induces vomiting, then attendance at a local school – often the site of past traumas and definitely a place of multiple sources of stress – is impossible. …
When speaking online to participate in Distance Education is so overwhelming  that considering it triggers extreme anxiety, …
what is left to allow you to be part of your peer group, a member of society; discovering ways to learn and interact and develop towards a productive adult life??


People with direct experience with severe and complex youth mental health issues know that the right healthcare is essential. But they’re also aware that even the understanding and inclusive treatment from trusted clinicians is often not enough to bring a stable foundation to lives that have been impacted in EVERY respect.

The Queensland Department of Education School that was part of the Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol was a real-life illustration of the vital role that supportive specialised education, training and rehabilitation plays in enabling young people to develop the skills and abilities that will be the basis of a future of social interaction, personal achievement, acquisition of lifeskills and of the fundamentals of learning that can lead to vocational/academic pursuits. And more. Through a carefully planned education environment and program, young people who have been disengaged from education and from social/community activities for an extended period can discover their potential, interests and hope for the future. This is vital. Particularly when an unsuitable educational/social environment is likely to have already exacerbated many aspects of their challenging mental health conditions. This means that a comprehensively student-focussed approach – one that acknowledges their vulnerabilities and respects their worth – is the only way to facilitate a path back to a life of growth and accomplishment. And surely every young person deserves the opportunity to live that kind of life – especially considering the trauma they’ve already endured and the unfair hand they have been dealt in relation to their health.

So, it’s extremely positive that the Department of Education are partnering with the Health Department during the current stage of development of services for young people following the recommendations from the BAC Commission of Inquiry.

Consumers and carers continue to advocate for ALL the needs of the young people for whom services have been lacking for so long. So, with the help of Health Consumers Queensland, the consumer/carer representatives directly involved in the ongoing co-design of services have pressed for a strong focus on the education and rehabilitation component of the new facility to be built at Chermside. And, in addition, they continue to promote the importance of educational components that will complement other services with the continuum of care for young people with mental health issues e.g. Step Up/ Step Down programs, young people accessing AMYOS support in the community … etc. When mental health issues affect EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE, then EVERY ASPECT OF A YOUNG PERSON’S LIFE MUST BE STRUCTURED TO ENABLE POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS (and not undermine effective healthcare or aggravate the ongoing struggle to find appropriate treatment). In the same way that the BAC Inquiry revealed a gap in awareness in health service providers in relation to the existence and needs of the group of young people and their families who endure the complexity and severity at the extreme end of the mental health spectrum, it’s been interesting to note that those handling education service provision can, despite good intentions, have been uninformed about this cohort and what they require. With those affected forced to focus on survival from day-to-day (or even minute-to-minute) and only a small number of educators with expertise and experience in this area, we’re looking for ways to spread the word about the importance of specialised education in the multidisciplinary approach to supporting those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues. So, with that in mind, this post is to provide links to information at severeyouthmentalhealth.org that might help to achieve that

 

The introductory Education & Training page

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-qe)
outlines a couple of major reasons that expert education and rehabilitation will always be an essential component in the range of services required by this cohort.

 

The Inpatient School: Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-qw)
explains how the school within a residential youth mental health facility with a multidisciplinary approach needs to operate to play the educational role that is key in affecting positive change for young people for whom the severity and complexity of their mental health issues has meant that no other treatment or education options have been effective.

 

The Support School: Community-based Young People

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-qy)
is likely to be a revelation to many as the students who require this service had not been acknowledged as a specific group different to those within the severe and complex cohort who require extended inpatient treatment until recently. However, thanks to the support of the Queensland Education Department for the Barrett School (which has continued operation since closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre in January 2014), young people still able to engage with community-based mental health services have been referred to the relocated Barrett School at Tennyson because there has been no EDUCATION service to meet their needs. Their needs have parallels with the ‘extended inpatient cohort’ but there are clear and distinct differences in the approach and management of an education program and environment to meet the specific needs of this community-based group.

 

The Future of Education in Severe Youth Mental Health

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-r7)
describes some possible options for continuing to address the needs of young Queenslanders whose mental health issues compromise every aspect of their lives – and that of their families/carers – in an era when no one can deny that mental illness needs to be the Number One Priority in addressing the needs of young people.

 

We hope that you’ll share some of the information on these pages wherever you can. And we’ll continue to update you about progress in the vital area of EDUCATION for those affected by SEVERE AND COMPLEX YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.
Because, essentially, education is not simply a priority for our most vulnerable young people, it should be a priority for service providers (government, NGOs and private) and, of course for all of us seeking to better understand the communities we live in and needs of our family members, friends and neighbours.

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Before you tweet/facebook #RUOK?, read this article …

No one is suggesting that you shouldn’t show concern for people with mental health issues via social media. However, in the same way that many people dealing with a cancer diagnosis feel alienated by the “battling” metaphors, there is a significant complexity to mental illness that needs to be more widely acknowledged.

This impressive young British journalist has articulated so much that needs to be in the public domain. The issues relating to the reduction of government support for the NHS (the National Health System in the UK) might serve as a warning for those countries whose public healthcare systems are similarly threatened. And as a mirror for those who don’t have public healthcare. But there is undoubtedly a lot here that needs to be known across the world’s population for whom mental health issues – particularly beyond depression and anxiety but not excluding those either – do not directly affect their lives. It’s positive that more people care. That more people want to know how to do something to provide support. So those people should read this article.

If you don’t live in it, you will never truly understanding complex, lifelong and evolving mental illness. The vocabulary to describe it has not been invented. And in some ways, neither has the brain capacity for anyone to understand the layers and nuance and inexplicable but palpable feelings of doom or terror or misperception or unmanageable mood change. Those who suffer it often can only feel it but not interpret it in a way that gives any real sense of what it is like to live within it. And even if they have periods when they’re not immersed, if they’re lucky they might lose touch with the piercing detail of the reality of those unfathomable depths. And why would they want to connect with those when there are so few reprieves in that temporary oasis where it’s almost possible to be finally present in a life that isn’t imploding through every part of you.

The article isn’t short. And #MentalHealthAwareness is. That’s why the slogans and similar initiatives to de-stigmatise are the efforts that catch fire. Few of us have time for longer than a re-tweet or a Facebook post before we move on with our own issues in our own lives which are debilitating in their own ways. No one’s life is easy. Few escape living nightmares in some form or another.

But if you can, please read the article linked to in this post. And share it. And keep a few fragments of it in the back of your mind.

Because as Hannah Parkinson says,

‘It’s nothing like a broken leg’: why I’m done with the mental health conversation

National Youth Health Forum inviting 16 to 30 yr old participants

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia is running a
Youth Health Forum on the 18th and 19th of September this year.
The aim is to bring 40 to 60 young people aged 16 – 30 who are interested in advocacy and leadership to Canberra to discuss the health issues that matter to them most and what can be done to improve the system for them.

The Forum will develop recommendations to improve the health system for young people and a delegation of participants will present these at Parliament House following the event. There are also plans to establish an ongoing Youth Health Forum to continue discussions and advocacy after the kick-off event.

Those aged 16 – 30 interested in participating should lodge an expression of interest form by 29 June. These can be obtained via the following contact details:

Phone: 02 6273 5444
Email info@chf.org.au
Text 0411 299 404

(Former advocacy and leadership experience is considered but is not a requirement.)

There is an evening welcome dinner on the 18 September and the forum itself on 19 September. Accommodation and travel will be funded but unfortunately CHF are unable to offer sitting fees.

Click here to check out the flyer where contact details are also listed

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PLEASE SHARE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO GIVE ALL INTERESTED YOUNG PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO APPLY … THANKS!

COMMUNITY INPUT REQUIRED re: Educational Needs of Young People with chronic/complex health conditions

Young people with chronic health or complex mental health conditions require more than simply healthcare. As they grow and develop – and hopefully receive the most effective treatment for their illness/es – their growth and development in all areas must be considered and supported, as is the case with all young people.

So, as the Health Department and Health Consumers Queensland facilitate the engagement of the wider community in the design and development of the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility for young people recovering from complex mental health conditions, Queensland’s Education Department is enthusiastic about embracing the input of those with lived experience in order to meet the educational needs of young people at the AETF AND through all stages of chronic illness and/or severe and complex mental health issues.

So, as part of the Department of Education’s commitment to developing and implementing a statewide continuum of educational delivery to support all students dealing with these kinds of health impacts, there will be a community forum where anyone can attend to put forward opinions, ideas and feedback around how to best support the educational needs of young people recovering from chronic health or complex mental health conditions.

Discussion will include issues relating to the new facility (to be located at The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane that is due to open in 2020) which will include residential facilities, day program treatment and therapy, and a school program. But young people move to and from different levels of healthcare service and, across Queensland, health issues and their impacts vary with each young person. So each student has specific needs in regard to accessing and gaining benefit from educational opportunities. So the Department of Education would like to ensure that all those needs are met. And only with the input of those who have needed and will need access to education across different circumstances can the full spectrum of types of education, training and rehabilitation services be planned for and provided.

So anyone who has an interest is invited to the:

Consultation Workshop

on

Monday 30 April, 9.15am–12.00pm

at

Conference Room, Autism Hub & Reading Centre (AHRC)
141 Merton Road (Cnr Park Road), Woolloongabba

(The AHRC is next to Park Road train station and Boggo Road bus station and there if free parking available onsite.)

If you click here or on any links in this post, you’ll be taken to the Eventbrite page where you can register to attend.

The program will be as follows:

9.15am–9.30am: Registration

9.30am–10.00am: Introduction presentation

10.00am–11.30am: Consumer workshop; Carer workshop

11.30am–12.00pm: Light lunch and refreshments

Reimbursement for attendance is provided.
Please advise of any dietary requirements.

Please share this on social media or with anyone you feel might be able to contribute in some way. The more that the people with firsthand knowledge can impart to those developing services, the more likely that Queensland’s young people will receive the invaluable education services that can make a significant difference to their lives.

Thank you.

Lived Experience Needed for Co-design of Youth Mental Health Programs

As planning continues for the Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility (AETF), other programs to support young people with mental health issues must also be developed.

TWO NEW ‘STEP UP STEP DOWN’ UNITS in North and South Brisbane
and
Refurbishment for the TWO NEW ADOLESCENT DAY PROGRAM SPACES at Logan and the Gold Coast

are priorities for the Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch (MHAODB) of the Queensland Health Department.

With the positive engagement of consumers and carers with lived experience in the AETF design thus far, establishing co-design consultation for these two services means that there are a range of opportunities for involvement of people with lived experience with youth mental health issues.

If you are interested in participating in the infrastructure co-design that will assist and inform design development of these facilities – or you know someone who might be – click here to download the Expression of Interest (EOI) form to be completed and submitted to Leonie Sanderson at Health Consumers Queensland by noon on the 2nd of April 2018.
(If you are unable to submit by this date but are still interested in applying, please phone Leonie on 0437 637 033.)

Different aspects of involvement require different time commitments so it’s possible to find a way of contributing that will suit your regular obligations. Participants are assisted with transport and/or access to meetings and financial reimbursement for their time. It’s hoped that individuals from rural and regional areas and a range of cultural background will be able to contribute in order to meet the needs of every young person who will need effective services in the future.

This is a great opportunity to ensure that the young people of Queensland get the full support that they need to deal with mental health issues. While a new extended treatment facility is vital, no youth mental health service will be effective unless the full system of treatment, education and rehabilitation options surrounds it. Young people must be able to transition from and to different levels and types of support in order to continue to heal and consolidate the progress they have already made. So if you have some experience with youth mental health issues, you have valuable insights into what kinds of services are essential and how they should be delivered to ensure they are most accessible and effective.

Please share this post wherever you can to facilitate the involvement of Queensland’s most valuable contributors – the people who use and need the healthcare that the government provides.

Thank you.

CALLING ALL YOUNG PEOPLE WITH OPINIONS AND IDEAS!!

A lot of different people have been involved in the co-design process still underway for the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility to be built at Chermside in Brisbane. And recently the most important people so far have begun to have input – Education Queensland and Health Consumers Queensland were able to facilitate a workshop that included a number of YOUNG PEOPLE THEMSELVES, all of whom made incredibly valuable contributions that will shape many aspects of the new centre.

So now, the Department of Education would like to hear from more young people on issues like:

  • what classrooms and outdoor learning areas should look like
  • what activities the young people attending the centre should be able to participate in
  • how the centre can have as comfortable and homey environment as it possible
  • what skills and knowledge teachers at the centre should have

IN FACT, ANY IDEAS AT ALL!

So …

IF YOU’RE A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT / SOMEONE WHO WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IN THE LAST 6 YEARS OR SO – OR YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO FITS THAT DESCRIPTION, please spread the word and encourage young people to

TAKE THE SURVEY

It’s quick, easy and online.

And if young people have had experience (personally or through someone else) with mental health issues, those insights would be especially interesting to learn.
But any young person who has ideas on what might be important in a health and education centre that’s going to have residents and day students attending where the focus is on healing and hope for the future can make a really useful contribution.

The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9WXM99Y
so please use the sharing buttons below to share this post and encourage young people to have their say.

The real experts on what works for young people are young people.
So as many insights as possible from those who know will ensure that the new centre has the best chance of being the place that everyone is hoping it will be.

Consumers/Carers Wanted for Workshop on Non-Government Mental Health Services

The Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch of Queensland Health are holding a workshop to identify practical examples or indicators of quality mental health services as delivered by non-government organisations on Friday 23 March. 

[Note: this does not focus specifically on youth related services so anyone with experience with any NGO providing mental health services will have useful insights.]

The MHAODB are seeking (10) consumers or carers (each of whom  will be remunerated $40 per hour as per the Department’s Renumeration Policy) who have had experiences with NGOs to attend the workshop:

at 111 George Street, Brisbane
between 10am and 1pm (lunch will be provided)
on 23 March 2018

To ensure regional representation, the Department is able to support two consumers from a regional area with flights and other travel.

Areas of particular interest are consumer and carer experiences in relation to:

  •  Recovery orientated practice
  •  Individualised recovery plans
  • Consumer and carer involvement
  • Client safety and risk management
  • Least restrictive practices
  • Inclusion and managing diversity
  • Human Resources and workforce (training)
  • Connections and referral pathways

So Expressions of Interest from participants who can contribute to discussions on these areas and represent diverse perspectives and backgrounds including culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTIQ, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and regional Queensland will be welcomed.

Click on this link to go the Survey Monkey page where you can fill in the form to electronically lodge your Expression of Interest in participating.

Anything that moves the state towards a full complement of services that ensure all needs are met is a vital activity. We hope some of you will be in a position to contribute your unique perspectives.

Support/Resources for Youth Issues with Alcohol and Other Drugs

Thanks to the Alcohol and other Drugs Team at Qld Health’s MHAODB (Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch), we’ve now be able to add some useful online and phone-based resources for young people and their families encountering issues with alcohol and other drugs to the severeyouthmentalhealth site.

There are several options available – some focussed on young people, others on classroom education and there’s support too for carers who find themselves in situations where they need to learn more or discover ways to assist young people in finding the help that’s right for them.

Depending on people’s circumstances, some of these online resources might lead to other forms of support or treatment while others might help those who have already completed a program or treatment by providing some self-management tools that are easily accessible. As with so many aspects of healthcare, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. But with our focus being online for so much of our lives, a range of options that have accurate information and proven helpful strategies at our fingertips may be a useful starting point.

Links to these newly added Alcohol and Other Drugs resources are now – along with all the links to youth mental health resources – on our USEFUL LINKS page. So if you know someone who might benefit, feel free to send them to:

https://severeyouthmentalhealth.org/useful-links/

or

https://wp.me/P7lCk2-P

AND do let us know if you have discovered or know of any other online resources that might be of use to include on that page. New sites and new understandings about treatment and support are developing all the time so we want to make sure that people have access to the things that work for them!

THANKS!

Federal Funding Boost for Youth Mental Health. But …

The federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, today announced a financial package of more than $100 million to support strategies targeting young mental health issues, stating:

“Programs for beyondblue, Headspace, Origin and Kids Helpline and Reach Out and others are all about ensuring that we provide assistance before the problems emerge and when they do emerge there are avenues for treatment and avenues for people to seek emergency help.”

Some of funds will be distributed as follows:

  • $46 million has been allocated to beyondblue’s integrated school-based Mental Health in Education initiative (a new national program to encourage good mental health and wellbeing practices operating from early learning centres to the end of secondary school where the aim is to give parents and educators the tools to recognise the early warning signs of mental health challenges and deal with them through access to a range of face-to-face or online mental health programs)
  • $13.5m has been allocated to the Orygen National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health which Orygen Executive Director, Professor Patrick McGorry, indicated would to maintain youth mental health services including Headspace centres throughout Australia*
  • Kids Helpline, ReachOut, Suicide Callback Service and QLife will share an additional $2 million over two years for telephone, webchat and online mental health help.

* While the Guardian quoted Professor McGorry as saying that the funding would not provide for any new centres, ABC News stated that “more Headspace centres will be set up across Australia, with a funding boost of $30 million”

HOWEVER …

as those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues know all too well:

…while a lot of young people get access to help through Headspace, one third of those who go to headspace are too complex for headspace alone, and they become trapped in a bottleneck in the system where they can’t get the specialised care they need.”

Patrick McGorry, 8 January 2018

So Professor McGorry made very clear that this financial injection must be just the beginning.  “We need to finish the job of national coverage,. … What’s really missing is expert, team-based care that organisations like Orygen provide, and which is in very short supply.

The Orygen founder emphasised the importance of further funding  to meet complex care needs, listing some specifics that needed addressing as:

  • the lifting of 10-session cap on allied mental health sessions, and
  • a significant allocation of funds for mobile and home-based interventions.

These are just SOME of the things that all mental health peak bodies and advocates MUST continue to lobby for.

Those at the severe and complex end of the spectrum are too often overlooked – perhaps because they are smaller in number than those for whom Headspace and other early intervention programs can achieve positive outcomes. But the more severe and complex, the more serious the ongoing impact on young people, their family, friends and wider community. The suffering that many endure is impossible for most people to imagine. Severe and complex youth mental health issues are 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. So professional management of the multiple services that are inevitably required will be a key aspect of delivery.

Available and accessible integrated, multidisciplinary programs that encompass treatment, education/training and rehabilitation are vital. And until those are adequately funded on an ongoing basis, the government still has much to do to make mental health the priority that it must be.

 

Mental Health the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE to Young People

The Annual Mission Australia Youth Survey has, for the first time in its history, found that the most important issue to Australian young people is MENTAL HEALTH.

The survey report reveals that concerns about mental health have doubled since 2015 and tripled since 2011. Other top issues of national concern included alcohol and drugs and equity and discrimination. … Many of the personal concerns reported by young people relate to their own mental health, including coping with stress, body image and depression, and mental health was also identified by many young people as a possible barrier to achieving their work or study goals after school. This reinforces that much more needs to be done to ensure that young people can access the right mental health supports when they need them.
From Highlights from the 2017 Youth Survey at https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/what-we-do/research-evaluation/youth-survey

This only serves to emphasise how vital the right mental health supports” for young people are and that including young people themselves in the process of developing these services is the only way to ensure that what is available meets their needs. This means that the contributions of those with direct experience of caring for young people with mental health issues is essential as not only can severe and/or complex youth mental health issues unfortunately prohibit the active involvement of some young people themselves but carers and families have their own needs and issues and clinical professionals in treatment roles have valuable perspectives.
Working TOGETHER –  respecting and valuing the input of every individual with relevant experience – will always achieve the best outcomes. And that’s what Australia’s young people need.

 

HOW TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Any young person or carer in Queensland who is not currently making an active contribution to the PLANNING of the BEST services possible to support young people with mental health issues can do so if they wish. To find out ways to directly participate, contact HEALTH CONSUMERS QUEENSLAND via:

EMAIL TO LEONIE SANDERSON (the Engagement Advisor specifically for Youth Mental Health): Leonie.Sanderson@hcq.org.au
PHONE: 07 3012 9090
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/healthconsumersqueensland

NOTE: There are always ways that your privacy and identity can be protected should that be a priority.
The range of contribution/involvement approaches allow for different levels and types of commitment. These span online surveys or email/phone comments via HCQ  TO active membership of committees/groups/workshops to achieve specific objectives.

The severeyouthmentalhealth website also endeavours to keep people updated as to particular activities underway via the Get Involved! page

 

The full Mission Australia report, along with
  • an infographics document of 2 pages which illustrates the key findings of the survey and
  • an analysis which compares responses from major cities and regional areas
is available from the Mission Australia website here

In addition, news reports with summary information and regional relevance are accessible via the links below:

The Brisbane Times – Mental Health the Number Issue for Young Queenslanders

NewsCorp – Young Australians worry most about mental health, Mission Australia survey finds

The World Today, ABC – Mental health ‘biggest national issue’ for young people – survey (audio)

The Educator – Students’ mental health concerns double since 2015 – survey

The West Australian – Mental health an increasing concern for young West Aussies, survey reveals

 

If you feel that information in this post may be useful/interesting to others who might not be regular visitors to severeyouthmentalhealth.org, please use the social media buttons below to share. Thanks! 

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