Queensland Mental Health CONSUMER AND CARER PEAK ORGANISATION

Please share the following:

This Wednesday 6th of February
from 10am to 11:30am

there will be a

Kitchen Table Morning Tea Event

to discuss the new

Queensland Mental Health Consumer and Carer Peak Organisation

at 340 Adelaide Street, Brisbane (Ground Floor Boardroom)

RSVPs are not required. Those interested are welcome to simply turn up on the day. 

 

This event is an informal opportunity to hear from mental health and addictions consumers and carers to seek input, with two other similar events to be held in Townsville and Mount Isa yet to be scheduled.

(Note: These events are for mental health consumers and carers only and not designed for representatives/leaders from organisations who also have interest in a new peak body. Separate meetings are being held with such organisations/ leaders to hear their views and seek input. )

Please download the flyer below and share it with your own consumer and carer networks.

Everyone wants expert support to be provided built on the genuine needs of those in the community living with mental health issues. So please never forget:

Your voices are vital.
Your experiences make you experts.

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The Severe and Complex Youth Mental Health Cohort

A New Year has begun.
So what lies ahead for people affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues?
Of course we can’t know. We can hope.

BUT IS HOPE ENOUGH AFTER ALL THAT PEOPLE HAVE HAD TO ENDURE?

The people who genuinely understand what “severe and complex” is in adolescence remain a minority.
Those who know exactly are those who live it every day.

Beyond them, who else recognises that severe and complex youth mental health issues” defines a unique group of young people? That this is a group whose mental health issues are far from treatable depressive or anxiety disorders.

Young people with severe and complex mental health issues experience symptoms, behaviours and triggers that are unpredictable, tortuous, idiosyncratic and often extreme and life-threatening.
They are burdened by the challenges of balancing between child- and adulthood – all while they confront the implications of multiple conditions that interact with each other to produce effects that sometimes don’t relate to any one of their individual diagnoses.
They can be young people whose traumatic histories have left them socially isolated, traumatised, misunderstood and even ignored for significant portions of their lives.
This cohort of patients – as well as those who care for them – MUST HAVE proper recognition.
If this does not happen on a wide scale in 2019, then the devastation of the Barrett Closure will be part of an ongoing tragedy.

Yes, a new centre is being built which is an incredible relief.
And yes, there has been a real commitment to a collaborative design process that includes people with lived experience as well as healthcare professionals and experts in the architecture and construction of mental healthcare buildings. It’s hoped that this will mean the beginning of this kind of process for other healthcare service development.

But as we start the New Year with the deaths of Talieha Nebauer, Will Fowell and Caitlin Wilkinson Whiticker still under examination by the Queensland Coroner, we need to ask:

Will this be another year that ends with uncertainty?

Will there be the vital outcomes for the families who repeatedly warned that the closure of the Barrett Centre would put the most vulnerable young people at even higher risk?
Will there be public recognition of the false administrative deadline, political cost-cutting motivation and lack of appropriate replacement services that meant transitions from the closing centre could never encompass the fundamental principles of stability and continuity of care for young people whose illness bears the risk of fatal consequences?
Will there be the long overdue acknowledgment of the few professionals whose understanding and expertise allowed them to continue their dedication to the welfare of traumatised young people with skilled measures that prevented even greater permanent damage?

Will there be a move towards wide-reaching processes to educate healthcare professionals about this cohort and the fact that their needs differ from the majority of people requiring clinical support for mental health issues?

Without the clear and tangible acceptance (with whatever documentation/ endorsement is required*) across the healthcare sector – and beyond – that young people with severe and complex mental health issues require truly SPECIALISED support from skilled practitioners who have the KNOWLEDGE of and COMMITMENT to individualised care, the young people in this cohort will continue to be referred to treatment options that have little chance of achieving progress. …
They will find themselves repeatedly confronted by the futile expectation that treatment that has been effective for those whose illness is less complex and less severe might eventually achieve a modicum of progress.
They will stand in Emergency Departments and be told that their compulsion to harm themselves is ‘just attention-seeking’ behaviour.
They will be informed by more than one practitioner that they are too complex for his/her level of experience. And then be left with nowhere left to turn.
And they will retreat to somewhere where they feel they cannot fail again. But where they will become even more lost.

But this lack of progress is not THEIR failure …

These young people and their families and friends deserve better.
They always have.
They have always deserved the best. But have too often received the worst.

They are still often judged and dismissed.
Even though they compromise and keep trying to give clarity to what their lives are like and what they need.

They slip through the cracks of both healthcare and education.
Even though they are desperate for effective treatment and an opportunity to have lives that are even a shadow of the opportunities they see other young people immersed in.

The lives of young people with severe and complex mental health issue are hard enough.
It takes effort to face a world that terrifies.
It takes strength to sit in corridors waiting to give voice to your greatest fears and darkest moments.

No one WANTS to expose thoughts and feelings that are deep inside and quashed because an illness has created them but yet for which the sufferer feels personally responsible. Or like a Freak. Or Weird. Or Evil.
No one WANTS to stay in a psychiatric facility unless they know that it’s the only thing that can save them.
And no person wants to do those things again and again and again because their medication isn’t effective or because their complexity is beyond their current clinician’s experience.

But this is the life that those affected by severe and complex mental youth health issues have been living.
Because of illness.
Not karma. Not punishment. Not of their own doing in any way.

It is a health issue. That becomes an emotional issue. A social issue. It affects development and learning and relationships and futures.

It changes lives.

It takes lives.

AND ALL THESE YOUNG PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES HAVE EVER NEEDED IS TO BE TRULY SEEN AND HEARD.
SO THE WORLD NEEDS TO LISTEN.
CLINICIANS NEED TO KNOW.
AND THEN APPLY THAT KNOWLEDGE.
The status quo is not good enough.
Not knowing is not good enough.

We know 3 young people died after the closure of the Barrett Centre.
We know other young people died before them and after them because their severity and complexity was not adequately recognised and supported.

So 2019 must be the year that Queensland,  Australia – and beyond –
SEES these young people and those that care for them.

RECOGNISES them.
LEARNS ABOUT THEM, FOR THEM AND WITH THEM.
AND DOES WHAT IS NEEDED TO GENUINELY HELP THEM.

.

If this year passes without those things happening,
we all should
know better.

.
Because we will have learnt absolutely nothing.

.

.


*  This need for clarification extends from those with lived experience to experts in the area of youth mental with extensive clinical and research backgrounds and a genuine understanding of the severe and complex cohort.
Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, is the world’s leading research and knowledge translation organisation focusing on mental ill-health in young people.  Professor Patrick McGorry is Orygen’s Executive Director. Their official response to the draft version of the National Mental Health Plan highlights a serious lack of clarification as regards severe and complex mental health issues i.e.

“… greater clarity (and consensus between the governments) needs to be articulated in the Fifth Plan to describe what is meant by ‘complex and severe’… “

and under “Specific feedback on the priority areas“, it’s stressed that there is:

“Over simplification of the experiences and stages of mental ill-health in the division of ‘complex and severe’ and the rest of the population. 

Unfortunately when the final version of the Plan was released, no changes had been made in that area. (Click image, right, to view draft and final text comparison.)

It’s also worth noting that in this 74 page document, the word “youth” appears only in reference to the Youth Suicide Prevention Plan for Tasmania (within a list of State and Territory Plans and Commitments). The word adolescent” appears a total of 4 times (two of those in one bibliography listing) and the phrases “young people” and “young adult/s” do not appear at all.

Opportunities to be involved in developments in mental health research and treatment

LIVED EXPERIENCE has genuinely moved from being a careful phrase to describe those impacted by mental health issues to being acknowledged as a significant asset in the development of all areas of analysis, understanding and treatment of such issues. Those who KNOW having gone from being INVISIBLE to being INCLUDED (thanks to the dynamic work of some very proactive people) and finally being VALUED.

And those who’ve been personally affected by mental health issues so often feel that they want to do what they’re able to help others to whom they can relate … it seems that experiencing health issues that can so comprehensively affect your thoughts, emotions and the way you live your life breeds deep compassion. The Lived Experience community is made up of some very strong and empathetic individuals.

If you are – or you know someone who might be – interesting in making a contribution to some innovations in mental health approaches, here are some opportunities to consider:

OPENING OF PEER CENTRE AT THOMPSON INSTITUTE

WHEN:   10am, Thursday 27th September
WHERE: Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute
USC (University of the Sunshine Coast)
12 Innovation Parkway, Birtinya.

This is an informal morning tea event to celebrate the opening of the PEER Centre at the Thompson Institute where the focus is on integrating mental health research, clinical services and teaching. It’s a great chance to go and see what the PEER Centre has to offer and celebrate the opportunities the Thompson Institute is creating for people who use mental health services to be proactively engaged in education and research.

All are welcomed. For more information or if you have the chance to RSVP, you can contact Chérie McGregor, Consumer Services Coordinator at the Thompson Institute on (07) 5456 3893 or at cmcgreg1@usc.edu.au


JOIN ADVISORY GROUP OVERSEEING THE EVALUATION FRAMEWORK FOR THE NEW ADOLESCENT EXTENDED TREATMENT FACILITY

Expressions of Interest are being sought for the positions of one consumer and one carer member of the Advisory Group to be chaired by the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) tasked with developing an Evaluation Framework for the new adolescent extended treatment facility due to commence operation in 2020. As key stakeholders, consumer/carer input is vital to ensure relevance and appropriateness of the evaluation framework from both technical and service user perspectives.

It’s anticipated that the commitment will require 3 to 4 meetings of about 4 hours each with all other details available here via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form to be submitted through Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) via email to Leonie Sanderson: leonie.sanderson@hcq.org.au by COB Friday 12 October 2018.  Please phone Leonie on 0437 637 033 for any queries including if you are interested in applying but are unable to submit by this date.


QLD HEALTH VICTIM SUPPORT SERVICE LOOKING FOR CONSUMER/CARER MEMBER FOR GROUP DEVELOPING RESTORATIVE JUSTICE APPROACH IN MENTAL HEALTH AND FORENSIC MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Restorative justice is an approach that involves the use of an independent trained facilitator working with people who are victims of violence, and a person involved in committing harm, with the aim of repairing harm. Restorative approaches have been used with success over twenty years in across different systems, including youth justice, education, adult criminal justice, community conflict as well as in other health settings and although they have not been used in mental health and forensic mental health services in Australia, their use has been growing since 2012 in England in mental health and forensic mental health services, and forensic mental health services in Calgary and the Netherlands.   

Expressions of Interest (EOIs) are being sought from carers and/or consumers with an interest in participating in the development of an innovative approach to how mental health and forensic mental health services respond to violence to participate in this stakeholder group.  You can download the EOI form here to be submitted by Tuesday 2nd October 2018 and if you have any enquiries, you can contact:
Michael Power
Director, Queensland Health Victim Support Service on
0428 594 119 or michael.power2@health.qld.gov.au


 

Consumers and Carers NEEDED on Steering Committee for New Adolescent Treatment Facility

KEY ROLES on this VITAL STEERING COMMITTEE are available for YOUNG PEOPLE, FORMER YOUNG PEOPLE AND CARERS WITH EXPERIENCE IN SEVERE  & COMPLEX ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES …

This is a unique opportunity to help shape how the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility at Chermside will operate along with all the key issues that will ensure it genuinely meets the needs of the young people of Queensland who were failed by the closure of the Barrett Centre.

This community has gone from being ignored to being included at ‘the top table’. This Steering Committee makes the decisions on the design and layout of the centre, its model of care, staffing, education component … all the aspects that, if done correctly, will take young people from lives of isolation and continual distress to a place of hope, ongoing support along with independent abilities and skills and having the best chance at a productive adult life with personal satisfaction and achievement.

BUT WITHOUT THOSE WHO KNOW WHAT IS REALLY NEEDED, THIS WON’T HAPPEN!

As previous consumer and carer reps can attest, you will be thoroughly and understandingly supported throughout your involvement by Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) and specialists in mental health. This is not a token gesture, you will be respected and have opportunities to say what’s needed within an environment that acknowledges your personal expertise. You can influence how the centre works and so ensure that young people in need become young people with promising futures. AND, you will receive remuneration for your time and reimbursement of expenses – info here.

For more information, you can go to this HCQ web page (i.e. at http://www.hcq.org.au/aetf-steering-committee-consumers-and-carers/ ) and, although Expressions of Interest (EOI) close on Friday 10th of August, if you think you might to apply but you’re unable to do so by this date, you can contact Leonie Sanderson, HCQ’s specialist Engagement Advisor on this issue, (on 0437 637 033 or via email at Leonie.Sanderson@hcq.org.au) to indicate your interest and for assistance in lodging your EOI. So if it’s after the 10th of August when you’re reading this, it may still not be too late.

This is a great opportunity to shape the future of adolescent mental health services for those impacted severely. Without those who’ve seen what’s lacking and what happens when that’s the case, the potential to create the most effective new treatment centre may never be reached.

YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEEN MISSING, YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEEN WRONG, YOU KNOW HOW THE SYSTEM HAS FAILED YOU … NOW YOU CAN MAKE IT RIGHT!

Please consider putting in an Expression of Interest today!

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.

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! 

*

 

 

Stage II of development of improved services begins

With the first stage of the implementation of the Barrett Inquiry recommendations predominantly completed (as Rec #1 requires a review across Queensland Health and not just in relation to youth mental health, the acceptance of the related report is still pending) it’s worth looking back on how things progressed in relation to consumer/carer involvement, thanks to the Health Consumers Queensland video put together by Leonie Sanderson. Another very interesting video on how things have progressed is that of the first Plenary Session at HCQ’s Annual Forum where the initial stage of the co-design process for youth mental health services is the focus.

There seems to be unanimous agreement on the success so far of the involvement of those with lived experience – particularly in relation to the value placed on and respect given to consumer/carer participants. So the natural progression has been that the new committees and working groups currently being put together to work on the next stage of service development will again include a number of consumer and carer representatives.  Following the call for Expressions of Interest from people interested in taking on roles in the upcoming process, the resulting group of individuals selected has created a useful mix of those who were involved with the initial stage and new contributors. This bodes well for input that will represent a range of perspectives as well as the positive outcomes that can come from the productive combination of fresh ideas and experience.

Orientation Meeting

In order to acquaint all the successful consumer/carer reps for the next stage with
(a) the upcoming process
(b) each other and
(c) the relevant government staff members (from the Education Department and Capital Works as well as, of course, from Queensland Health)
an Orientation Meeting was held on the 6th of October.

As well as covering the necessary administrative issues, participants were able to connect with each other and with Leonie Sanderson and Melissa Fox of Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) – who will again be facilitating the consumer/carer engagement. There was also a preliminary presentation on the overview of the program of work to be undertaken and the consumer/carer roles within that.

It’s hoped that there will be opportunities for others to participate in various ways as things progress so, if you’re interested, you can check in regularly at the dedicated HCQ page OR head there now and sign up to receive email updates on developments. Note: You can sign up for updates purely related to the post-Barrett Inquiry action AND/OR for any other consumers/carer opportunities to engage in other kinds of service planning and support across the Health sector. If you do the latter, you hear about opportunities like the following:

1.) Consumer/Carer Registrations for 1st Asia Pacific Conference on Integrated Care

HCQ has been given a number of registrations for consumers/carers to attend the three day conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre from 8 – 10 November. (Please note that these registrations cover only the cost of attendance and nothing additional in relation to travel, accommodation etc.)

The Congress is a partnership between The International Foundation of Integrated Care (IFIC), The Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Queensland Health Clinical Excellence Division, the University of Queensland and the Centre for Remote and Rural Mental Health. You can view the draft program here or click on the link here or in the title above to find out more about applying for the HCQ registrations.

2.) 5th Annual North Brisbane Partners in Recovery Forum

Registrations are still available to attend this forum which will be held on Thursday 2 November 2017 at Victoria Park, Herston. Because it includes keynote speakers with a focus on connecting mental and physical health and wellbeing , it seems appropriate to include it in this update.

North Brisbane Partners in Recovery‘ suggests that the following people attend:

  • frontline mental health workers and other community workers with an interest in mental health
  • health and community service managers, researchers and policy makers
  • consumer and carer representatives, volunteers, peer workers and management committee members.

To book, you can head to this event booking page or to find out more, contact danielle.francisco@brisbanenorthphn.org.au or 07 3630 7344.

And, as always, severeyouthmentalhealth.org will endeavour to keep site visitors and followers updated on any developments and issues relating mental health services for young people with severe and complex issues, particularly in Queensland.

Thanks to all our regular and new supporters. The more that people with compassion and personal understanding can engage in the development of services, the better the future will be for the young people and their families who need and deserve the best possible support.

Needed: Lived Experience reps to guide youth mental health services going forward

PLEASE SHARE THIS AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN …

N.B. Closing Date for Submissions is Thursday, 7 September

ADOLESCENT EXTENDED TREATMENT FACILITY AND EXPANDED YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM

YOU can have direct input into the development of the new facility AND the other vital new services for young people with severe and complex mental health issues in Queensland. 

Health Consumers Queensland are seeking Expressions of Interest for consumer and carer representatives for the following:

Overarching Committee chaired by the Deputy-Director General, Clinical Excellence Division, Department of Health to ensure processes are monitored and advice/direction is provided to support timely and successful delivery of the AETF, StepUp/StepDown Units and new adolescent Day Programs.
Project Oversight Group to oversee delivery of the program of capital works i.e. resolving design and coordination issues and providing advice to the Committee on risks and actions for resolution. (Meetings held monthly.)
Co-design consultation: A range of workshops seeking health consumer input/expertise for detailed design, model of service and integrated educational/vocational services.

Go to this page of the HCQ website for more info and to download the Expression of Interest form to be emailed to Leonie Sanderson by midday Thursday 7 September 2017.

Please phone Leonie on 0437 637 033 if you are interested in applying but are unable to submit by this date.

*

Just the beginning …

The response to the Barrett Commission of Inquiry has reached an important stage. The MHAOD (Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs) Branch of Queensland Health is finalising the work required of it in relation to the recommendations that came from Justice Wilson’s report. The majority of the actions committed to by the current government in its Inquiry response involved analysis or exploratory activities that would lay the foundation for the development of practical changes in approach to future service provision i.e. in order to “improve service agreements …; evaluations…; transitions…; and coordination between services”, the current status of all of these things must be assessed/mapped. And, as a result of the research, appraisal and consultation, recommendations for future actions have now been put to the government for their decisions on whether/how things might progress. A summary of – and links to – the reports can be found on the August update on the Developments page of this site.

Of course it’s hoped by all those who have put so much time and effort into achieving what has been accomplished over the past year that this – or any future government – will continue what has been a productive beginning. Particularly because all contributors know that Queensland’s young people with severe and complex mental health issues and their families – and those who will exist in the future – have the most at stake.

It’s important to bear in mind that most bureaucratic processes can take extended periods of time and that what has been achieved so far has been done within a timeframe that would overpower many teams of public servants. But those involved have been able to accomplish a considerable amount. And, as a result of this process,  a dedicated Child and Youth Mental Health Team has been established within the MHAODB of Queensland Health, ensuring system leadership for child and youth mental health policy and planning. This can only lead to positive developments for children and young people and their families whose unique needs deserve specific representation at this level so it’s a very valuable step.

As well as acknowledging the focussed staff within Queensland Health, deep appreciation must be expressed to the amazingly passionate consumer and carer representatives whose contributions have significantly shaped the outcomes to date. Those in the position to provide invaluable perspectives are often also those for whom making the time and energy for meetings, forums etc. can be a considerable challenge. So anyone facing personal hurdles who overcame those to contribute in any way deserves our sincere gratitude and admiration. Thanks to the seamless and enthusiastic facilitation of Health Consumers Queensland, we know that the recommendations that are being put to government have been genuinely and appropriately influenced by those with lived experience. Both Qld Health Deputy Director General Dr John Wakefield and the Managing Director of the consulting firm undertaking the design of the new extended treatment facility have clearly stated that, without the input of those who have lived with the reality of severe and complex adolescent mental health issues, what is being presented to the government would have been quite different.

We now await the policy decisions of this or the next government (depending on when the next state election takes place) to find out if/how this strong foundation might grow into life changing approaches to mental healthcare.

Because, with generations of young Queenslanders still at risk, this is clearly only the beginning. And continued commitment to improving the services for some of the most vulnerable across our communities is not only logical and financially sound … it is the obligation of those with the ultimate authority to provide an adequate system of resources for the people of the state.

As we note this promising start , however, we can never allow ourselves to forget those who have been lost and those who have experienced such loss and irreparable damage.
They are always in our thoughts.
They drive us to do better.
And, for them, we will always do what we can to create a more understanding and healing world for those that are to come.

*

Progress Report – June 2017

A summary on the progress of the implementation of the recommendations to improve mental health services for those affected by severe and complex adolescent mental health issues in Queensland is now on the DEVELOPMENTS page at severeyouthmentalhealth.org. This includes links to more detail via the Queensland Health Communiqués released following each Steering Committee meeting as well as  other recently tabled reports.

A couple of documents that are likely to be of particular interest are those relating to RECOMMENDATION #4 – THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NEW ADOLESCENT EXTENDED TREATMENT FACILITY (AETF). The Thematic Analysis Report summarises the web feedback provided on the draft Model of Service for the AETF so whether or not you were in a position to complete the online survey, the feedback from that makes for interesting reading. In addition, there is an External Review of the Model of Service by Dr Paul Robertson, a Victorian based child and adolescent psychiatrist of 25 years experience, who undertook consultations with a number of groups and individuals as well as being given access to relevant documentation. His insights will undoubtedly also play in a role in the development of not only the new facility but will encourage a strong focus on the full continuum of care for young people with mental health issues in Queensland (the child and youth mental health services continuum ie. CYMHSC, as Dr Robertson refers to it) and the ongoing co-design process i.e. “A structure to support ongoing consumer and carer participation in the broader CYMHSC system is recommended“.

So a complete and integrated CYMHSC system that will allow access across the state for all young people with mental health issues to a full range of treatment and other service options will be a key issue in the future. This will not only ensure stable and informed transitions from one care/education/support service to another but will hopefully mean that some young people who might otherwise have needed extended inpatient care could achieve recovery without that. For, although the clinical experts who gave evidence at the Barrett Inquiry made clear that there will always be a group of young people whose conditions and individual circumstances are so severe and complex that community-based care will not adequately support their progress, the objective is always to facilitate recovery in the least restrictive environment possible. Queensland needs a statewide service like the AETF but it also needs a complete system within which collaboration and communication are the foundation of operations. Mental health issues impact all aspects of people’s lives and when the individual needs and situations of those suffering are acknowledged, understood and met as effectively and immediately as possible, all our communities will benefit. So Dr Robertson’s urging that collaborative planning does not begin and end with a new facility is extremely pertinent.

He also stresses the need for RESEARCH to be a key component of the new AETF i.e.

Reference is made to the AETF undertaking research. It should be obliged to collect sufficient data to allow appropriate review of its functioning. Adequate resources, funding and time should be allocated for this to occur. Research will not occur without appropriate funding and partnerships with universities or other research organisations. Both appropriate data collection and analysis and research would require an active and resourced plan.

Existing and developing technologies should ensure that research extends beyond the new facility and across all the components of the CYMHSC. Collecting data on the services that precede and follow a young AETF patient’s inpatient treatment – will provide insights into this cohort of young people that is currently lacking across the globe. AND compiling extensive evidence on all youth mental health issues must be seen as a priority in a country where available data states that one in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition [ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results 2007 (2008), p 9] and we are regularly made aware that the risk in our youth population only continues to grow. So methods of gathering and collating information on the challenges faced by our young people that not only avoid any negative impact on the vulnerable but may, in fact, have potential for therapeutic benefit require prioritised consideration.

The STATEWIDE FORUMS facilitated by the Health and Education Departments along with Health Consumers Queensland have now concluded and summary information from those should soon become available. Consumers and carer representatives attended these with the support of HCQ and, with a number of factors influencing the ability of local consumers and carers to attend, it has also been invaluable to have Leonie Sanderson, the dedicated HCQ Engagement Advisor, continually open to accepting input via a range of communication avenues (surveys, emails, teleconferences and meetings for specific subgroups) to ensure that anyone in Queensland with insights into service provision in this area have had – and will continue to have – their voices heard.

THE ROLE OF HEALTH CONSUMERS QUEENSLAND has been extremely important in the process so far – supporting and facilitating the active involvement of consumers and carers. And HCQ’s enthusiasm for the project was highlighted when they made it the theme of the Plenary Session at their annual forum (video and written info on that session is available here), with Katherine Moodie and Jeannine Kimber – two of the consumer/carer representatives on the Steering Committee – on the panel alongside John Allan, Executive Director, MHAODB, Queensland Health; Gunther De Graeve, the Managing Director of the consulting firm undertaking the design of the new AETF; and Stacie Hansel, Executive Director, Dept Education & Training. The discussion highlighted the great potential of this project to not only produce innovative and more effective outcomes but to influence the way that future service planning should proceed. Participants significantly endorsed the tangible value of consumer/carer input as Gunther De Graeve stated:

There has been an enormous change in our design development, actually, through this process. … This co-design process really allowed us to reach very deep into the operational requirements, into the therapeutic requirements, the day-to-day requirements and then safety overlays etc. of this facility and it gave us a very wide platform. Traditionally, this engagement goes to clinicians and nursing staff and therapeutic staff and very little with the consumers. … It was a genuine process of actually trying to understand what the needs were and, to date, I still say that if we didn’t do that process we would have designed a very different facility and it probably wouldn’t have been – definitely not – as therapeutic as that facility could be for the patients.

So, as progress goes, it would seem that in many ways we are at the beginning of something bigger than a response to the Inquiry recommendations. Although the planning for the new AETF is well underway and the examination of transition procedures, service agreements and other vital elements that underlay the provision of services has been undertaken, the potential of this project to have an effect on other aspects of service delivery (education, vocational training, support for carers and families, justice and legal issues, housing and accommodation etc.), of approaches and attitudes to mental health and to ALL those affected by these issues must make this project only the start. People with lived experience must have a permanent seat at the table – not just on listening tours and wider consultation but at levels of decision-making and influence. And that includes not only consumers of services and their carers and families but those professionals who have dedicated years of clinical, educational and other practice to these consumers and carers. Those who work daily to improve the lives of others by being part of the reality, by knowing the individuals and supporting them in their journey must always be encouraged to give insights on the practicalities, the impediments, the successes.

Only through true collaboration will success be achieved. And if there is any area in which we must achieve, it is in keeping our young people alive and giving them hope for a better life.