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.


 

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!

And the GOOD NEWS is …

The bad news won’t be news to you. Clearly a global pandemic is going to seriously impact mental health. And young people will bear the burden of the lack of social interaction and opportunities to explore their growing independence.
But THE GOOD NEWS is something that many people aren’t aware of. That there’s a really effective education program operating in Queensland to re-engage young people who have severe mental health issues with learning. And with life. Because the right approach to education is the foundation for so many positive developments.

For the last 6 years, the Barrett Adolescent Special School at Tennyson in Brisbane has been supporting young people in the community with severe mental health issues who had lost hope of finding a education option that could meet their needs. Until the relocation of the school that had been onsite with the treatment centre at Wacol. And with teachers with expertise in engaging students with learning that enables and empowers, lives are being changed for the better.

Until the Barrett School was available to students beyond the inpatient cohort at the Wacol centre, there were (and still are) young people all through our communities who had (and have) lost touch with education. Modified attendance at their regular school, a flexi-school, Distance Ed. … can all fail to understand the needs of those with severe and complex mental health issues. But when Guidance Officers could begin referring students to the Barrett School, hope was finally alive in those young people and their families in the Brisbane area. (Here’s the federal MP for Moreton giving an insight into how it can start.) 

It’s not a short journey. From extended isolation to the rewards of a bespoke education. Even when there are knowledgeable experts supporting young people in an appropriate environment. But with individualised programs that are continually modified and evolving, there are so many ways that young people will develop and learn as they take each step. The whole school team at Barrett devises, reviews and adapts the learning plans of each student with ongoing liaison with base school guidance officers, family members/carers, clinical care providers and MOST IMPORTANTLY, the young person themselves. So that experiences that facilitate their learning also align with their interests and their capabilities, providing opportunities for success and progress. Social and personal growth happen in nurturing environments as knowledge and skills are acquired. And new pathways then begin to open up. The Barrett School’s case management allows young people to explore a range of ways to acquire abilities and information, to set goals and achieve outcomes – from TAFE/ vocational training to academic pursuits to work experience and more. All with the stability of a guiding team of understanding teachers and, perhaps for the first time, with classmates who indicate that you are not alone in the challenges that seemed to set you apart from peers in every way.  

Being disconnected from learning in adolescence has wide-ranging consequences. So becoming connected can be a revelation. Every young person deserves to experience a meaningful education. One that begins to show you who you are and what you can do with your life. And that both of those has considerable value.

So we salute the educators who are opening the door to a future to those who felt left in the dark. The education team at the Barrett Adolescent Special school are a precious resource. A gem that, while currently unique, doesn’t need to be rare. If the government acknowledges the asset as it should, we should see more of these programs throughout the state. There are currently no plans in that area so that is clearly something we must advocate for. (And we’re just a few weeks from a state election. So if you email the Premier and the Education Minister now to stress what young Queenslanders need, that could make a real difference.)

You can read more about the Barrett Adolescent Special School on our Qld Govt (Education) page here, on our page about Support Schools here, and at the school’s website here. Congratulations to Education Queensland on a specialised service that is becoming more vital every day!


This is the second of our October series, ‘Focus on EDUCATION’.

If you haven’t checked out the first yet, you can do so here or go direct to the linked video here.

Education for Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues

Today is World Teachers Day.*

Saturday is World Mental Health Day.*

So at severeyouthmentalhealth.org, we’ll be focussing on EDUCATION for young people with severe mental health issues throughout October.

Highlighting what’s available and what’s needed for young people in this area is relevant anytime. But the global pandemic has made this – like many other things – an urgent issue. The theme of 2020 World Teachers Day is, appropriately:

Leading in crisis, reimagining the future
So this October, we’ll be paying tribute to the truly amazing educators who are already showing the way in specialised education for young people for whom mental health issues have rendered every other education option ineffective. We’ll shine a light on the best but also ask “where’s the rest“?

In future posts we’ll look at Support Schools, the AETC education program and ways educators can share insights across their network. We’ll look at Queensland and see if young people across the state are being properly supported to keep learning through severe mental health issues and a global pandemic.

For those who have disengaged from education because you felt misunderstood, … because even modified, distance ed or other services couldn’t keep you learning, … it’s important that you know that the problem is not with you. Teachers have shown us they can be flexible, resourceful and mindful of individual needs in 2020. But to properly support students with severe mental health issues, teachers need to know more about those young people and the programs that will work to keep them on a path where progress is inevitable. In time. SO the service providers – government and private – must ensure that teachers have that specialised knowledge and that there are places with appropriate environments where individual goals are the foundation for expert staff to provide targeted programs.

But the most important place to start is to hear from the young people themselves about what they need. And the struggle they can go through trying to find it.

Health Consumers Queensland has just released some short videos created by those in their severe youth mental health consumer and carer network. Young people and those close to them have shared their experiences in the hope that education providers will listen. And learn. And then enable their dedicated teaching staff to deliver the programs that can mean the difference for young people affected between a life of dependence and isolation and one where independence, purpose and personal satisfaction are a reality.

Click here to watch Young People with Severe Mental Health Issues: Experiences with Healthcare & Education (9 mins)

And please share this post or the video link so that with understanding will come better services and greater support for those whose lives are so severely challenging.


World Teachers Day will be celebrated by the Queensland Education Department on 30 October and State Education Week will be 25 – 31 October.

Queensland Mental Health Week is 10 – 18 October.

 

Position Vacant on project with Queensland Alliance for Mental Health

PROJECT:
Consumer and Carer Perceptions of Mental Health Service System Changes resulting from COVID-19

(a project in partnership with Health Consumers Queensland, Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Service and the Brisbane South PHN)

ROLE:
Lived Experience Advisor
(part time up to 15 hours per week until  30 June 2021, based at QAMH Stones Corner)
https://www.seek.com.au/job/50578393
The QAMH is the state’s peak advocacy body for mental health.
And they’re undertaking a project to understand:
  • the specific changes that have occurred across services and map those services
  • the experiences of consumers and carers with those changes and
  • the perceptions of care from the service providers viewpoint
This isn’t a role that’s specifically for young people or carers of young people but it might be worth considering or sharing with others that you know.
If you want more information, click on the link to the SEEK advertisement above or  contact Sarah Childs, the Director of Engagement & Partnerships at QAMH oschilds@qamh.org.au or at  07 3394 8480.

Be part of building a Young Health Consumers Network!

Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) plays important role in facilitating the connection between the service providers and the people who need the services. They help create an effective way for individuals and groups who have been – and are being – affected by health issues to directly advocate for the support that they need. And for the right people to listen and take action.

HCQ have been vital in facilitating the changes that have been implemented following the BAC Commission of Inquiry recommendations. Their support, guidance and planning expertise have meant that people dealing with severe health issues have been able to communicate the impact of those issues directly to the people that provide healthcare. AND in forums that minimise the challenges and magnify the important messages.

So when HCQ indicates that they’re putting together a youth health consumers network, we know that those who get involved will not only be able to create the change that’s needed but they’ll be well supported as they do so.

We’d encourage anyone who wants to find out more to read the blurb below and go to the link supplied. 

Make a difference to young people’s healthcare

Would you like to help build an effective, exciting and diverse youth health consumer network?
Could you help guide the Young Health Consumers Engagement project and ensure that what we develop together works for all young people and your different needs?
Would you like to make it possible for young people to be able to regularly share ideas and views on health services with  Queensland Health and help develop the services you need together?

We want to hear your voice!

Health Consumers Queensland is leading a project to improve the engagement of young health consumers in Queensland. We are establishing a Youth Reference Group for the project to enable and ensure the voices of young health consumers are heard.  

Many young people use Queensland Health services which are designed for older adults including emergency services, mental health services, acute and chronic support services. You have valuable experience and feedback to give that is important to policy makers, clinicians and others in the health system.

We also want to better understand any key changes you may have experienced with health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find out more and apply!

Have YOUR SAY on Mental Health

The government provides health services based on the National Mental Health Plan. The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (the Fifth Plan) and its Implementation Plan were endorsed in August 2017.

NOW, they are looking to work towards a NEW set of mental health safety priorities. And they want people in Australia to tell them …
  • what you think are the most important safety priorities in mental health,
  • how they can best improve safety in these areas, and
  • how they can monitor progress over time.

There are several ways you can let the government know what you think:

  1. You can take part in a survey (open until 10 June)
  2. You can join an online discussion (between 15 & 26 June)
  3. You can make a written submission (open until 26 June)

To do any of those, click on the links above.

People across Australia dealing with mental health issues KNOW what’s important.

We know that quite often just surviving the day has to be your focus. But if, in the next few weeks, you can make some time to give your input, the government will know where THEIR focus has to be where mental healthcare is concerned. If you can’t, perhaps you can share the links above with others who might be able to.

We need to let the government know what matters.

Australia needs the best possible mental healthcare. Telling those providing services what and how is the way to achieve that.

Thank you.


 

Opportunity for Brisbane North peer workers

A ‘Community of Practice‘ is a group of people, each with a mutual concern/ passion who, through sharing information and experiences, develop personally and professionally.

And the Brisbane North PHN is setting up a Community of Practice aimed at those currently employed in, or volunteering in, lived experience roles in the region.

Because  many peer workers don’t have access to Peer Supervision and some peer reflection and group supervision with other peers can be extremely helpful, this is a great opportunity. BUT NUMBERS ARE LIMITED! And Expressions of Interest need to be in by Monday 25 May.

So if you’re interested, you’ll need to put in an EOI ASAP.

Click here to find out more.