$70 million in Queensland budget for Adolescent Mental Health

NEWS

The opening story on the 12 June bulletin on Queensland’s ABC television News was that the Palaszcsuk’s 13 June 2017 state budget – released this week – includes just under $70 million dollars to not only proceed with the establishment of the new extended treatment and rehabilitation facility at Chermside but to create four other complementary services aiming to support young people with mental illness in the community. (Online summary of ABC report here.)

Future plans include two new Step up Step Down facilities in south-east Queensland and two day programs to be based at Logan and the Gold Coast.

Justine Wilkinson, who lost her daughter Caitlin following the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre, has welcomed the allocation of funding but acknowledges that there is still much to be done to provide young people and their families with the full range of support that will make a significant difference to lives that can be indescribably turbulent and challenging. Ms Wilkinson’s ongoing advocacy has meant that she – along with other consumers and carers with lived experience in this area – has played a significant role in the ongoing co-design of new services following the government’s commitment to act on all the recommendations from the BAC Commission of Inquiry.

The engagement of Health Consumers Queensland has ensured that consumer and carer representatives sit on all committees and working groups undertaking planning to fulfil the recommendations and that people throughout Queensland have had opportunities to provide meaningful input into future service provision. This commitment to co-design ensures that those with lived experience not only are heard but heeded and can actively help to shape future services – a collaboration that should lead to programs and support that genuinely meet the needs of those in the community that require them.

Health Minister Cameron Dick believes the funding package to be a landmark step for young people so the community affected by youth mental health issues can only hope that innovative approaches to planning and needed funding continue to be at the forefront of the minds of all those responsible for providing vital services at all levels and in all sectors.

(More comment on this announcement can be found at the Blog post: ‘A Budget Boost –its implications for the Future and the Past.)

What does ‘SEVERE & COMPLEX’ ADOLESCENT mental health issues MEAN?

NEWS

Very few people know.

Quite a few people think they know … but they don’t.

So, as is often the case, education is the answer.

If there is genuine understanding of an issue, most people’s needs will be met. So, in endeavouring to ensure that the needs of those affected by severe and complex adolescent mental health issues are met, those advocating for the right services are gathering information from the people who know – the people who’ve experienced those issues.

If this is you or someone you know, we need your input … so that we can make sure YOU and those close to you … AND others like you … get the best help in future.

We need to put together stories, snapshots, insights into what it’s like living with severe and complex mental health issues during adolescence – for the young people, for their carers, for their families and their friends. 

So if you can tell us just a little, we can put together some examples that resonate with truth but without identifying any individual or contravening anyone’s privacy. We can paint a clear picture of what it feels like to:

  • be turned away from an Emergency Department
  • be denied access to services because you’re TOO unwell
  • have to retell your history over and over again to psychiatrists, psychologists, CYMHS staff
  • etc.

AND what it feels like to:

  • get the right support so that you can attend school
  • work with a clinician who respects your input and acknowledges your strengths
  • build a life with functional relationships and moments of peace
  • etc.

Only your own stories can describe what it’s like. And we know that it’s not easy to tell those stories. So Health Consumers Qld have put together some questions to provide a framework for people to provide their insights. So that we can educate people – the people in positions that will determine the services available to support those dealing with severe and complex adolescent mental health issues.

Click on the links below to have your say – the good, the bad, the unimaginable. If the government officials, medical professionals and bureaucrats don’t know what’s happening to you, they can’t improve the system, the type/amount of support or the approach/attitude of clinical staff etc.

The good things must be replicated and shared.
The bad things must be prevented from impacting people’s lives ever again.

So please fill us in about your significant experiences and knowledge of what works/doesn’t work (AND/OR encourage others to do so) via:

Snapshot for consumers/young people

and

Snapshot for family/carers

and you can provide a brief history with this story template.

Then we’ll be able to educate people about what you’re dealing with (while you remain anonymous). And we can push even harder for better services so that, in the future, you’ll have only good stories to tell.

Progress in Youth Mental Health Planning

NEWS

Queensland Health now have a website that deals specifically with their actions in relation to the Barrett Adolescent Centre Closure Commission of Inquiry. This will provide information on plans for the new extended treatment and education facility as well as other related developments and, along with this site and the dedicated page at Health Consumers Queensland, it’ll inform people of ways they can become involved in plans for future services and policies. Regular Communiqués will be posted on this page along with any other news and relevant information. Continue reading

New centre to be built at Prince Charles Hospital + SURVEY announced

NEWS

The Queensland Premier announced today that a new facility for young people with severe and complex mental health issues would be built in the grounds of Prince Charles Hospital at Chermside in Brisbane’s northern suburbs. A site visit was then made where Premier Palaszczuk and Health Minister Cameron Dick were joined by community members directly affected by the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre in January 2014. The Minister had met with families linked to the Barrett Centre yesterday to update them on the progress of the government’s response to the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the closure and reassure them that health service consumers and carers would continue to play a significant role in planning and developments. Continue reading

The potential for a new approach based on genuine understanding ­– Part 2

As the Steering Committee overseeing the implementation of all the recommendations from the Barrett Centre Commission of Inquiry (COI) has begun its work, it seems opportune to outline what’s needed as far as #4 (“consider a new building in south-east Queensland offering a range of mental health services for young people, including bed-based services”) of the 6 recommendations is concerned. Continue reading

AN INQUEST … families still waiting

A BLOG POST

Talieha Nebauer passed away in April 2014
Will Fowell died in June 2014 and
Caitlin Wilkinson Whiticker took her life in August 2014

Two of those young people were in the care of the state when they took the actions that would end their lives. The other was living with family who had no access to any information on that young person’s treatment plan or assigned clinicians; state of mind and attendance at sessions; or the appropriate behaviour and support to be adopted by those close to her.

Prior to the closure of the Barrett Centre, families had the security of knowing that their loved ones were so well supervised that they would be safe from the fatal outcomes that their mental health issues could lead them towards. They knew that they were in an environment where they were surrounded by friends who’d look after them, who’d demonstrated the kind of caring that would at least help to nullify the feelings of isolation that had previously plagued them. And, for many, there was the hope that long-awaited progress brings – that one day, they would be leading independent lives in the community with all that things that that entails – study, work, social activities, sport, relationships, a family of their own …

but that ended as the turbulent years of uncertainty and decline led to the disintegration of that understanding community. Young people found themselves in unfamiliar places, sometimes surrounded by adult patients and expected to bear the burden of levels of self-sufficiency that they had no experience with; or living in the community and wielding the rights and authority of adulthood without the maturity or capacity to have such a huge responsibility.

April, June, August 2014.

And still no answers for their families. 

Continue reading

Government Response to Barrett Commission of Inquiry Recommendations So Far

The Queensland Government has reacted quickly to implement the six main recommendations from Commissioner Margaret Wilson following the Inquiry into the Closure of the Barrett Centre. Continue reading

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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