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!

Hope for real change in a post-COVID future

Yesterday, former PM Julia Gillard in her role as Chair of Beyond Blue wrote an article that is truly important.
It not only highlights the fact that a national mental health response and recovery plan related to COVID-19 will be vital but indicates that irrespective of the pandemic and its implications, Australia “went into this crisis with a mental health system in need of profound change”.

We cannot ignore the fact that many people with mental health issues prior to the events of the last few months will be severely impacted by many aspects of the pandemic and the changes it has imposed on us. But it’s also important to acknowledge that anxiety and depression will be impacting those unfamiliar with mental challenges prior to this significant global event.

Julia Gillard, as well as reporting on what has already been noted about people’s use of and need for the right support to this point, underlines the ongoing positive implications of the fact that this crisis has demonstrated the capacity of the mental health community to “swiftly design and implement reforms which impact behaviour, improve outcomes, and which the community will embrace.” Our capacity to find ways to connect, adapt and collaborate have been adept and creative. So …

“We need to keep this spirit alive as we work to build a mental health system in which people seeking support have options that match their needs. We must use this opportunity to close some of the structural gaps in the system and address affordability.”

In a challenging period for the world, it’s important to find positives. And we can have hope that a country with the capacity to acknowledge an urgent need for change and take swift and decisive action is one that can apply a similar approach to critical issues beyond the pandemic. That a government that is able to take a bipartisan approach to ensure the health of its citizens should utilise the same method when lives are at stake in epidemic proportions in the way we see mental health issues having such a devastating effect outside the impacts of a pandemic.

We shall be expecting a lot from our health and other support services when the acute period of this COVID-19 crisis is behind us. But now we know that they are able to rise to such challenges, those expectations should be able to be met. And we have a right to insist that they are.

Saving lives is what had driven the unprecedented response of governments across the world to the spread of the coronavirus. And saving lives is what is always at the heart of what we demand of our mental health support services in any situation. We must always seek to find and expect the best ways to save lives … from ending AND from the dire consequences of deep suffering due to trauma, hopelessness and the many other torments of mental illness.

Julia Gillard states in her article that:

“the current shock can be what pushes us forward and delivers some of the changes people, families and communities have long needed.”

So we move towards a future armed with the knowledge that our governments can and will act in urgent circumstances. And we should accept nothing less long after this pandemic is over.

Significant change is something long overdue for mental health systems across Australia. And with the best evidence possible that systems can be altered dramatically when required, this crisis may provide us with the impetus to create a future that is not “back to normal” but ahead to the development of a system that finally genuinely responds to the needs of those it seeks to help.


You can read Julia Gillard’s article in full HERE (OR IN PDF FORMAT HERE).

Australia’s Youth Health Forum needs YOU

  • Are you aged 18 – 30?
  • Do you use the health and social care system or help someone who does?
  • Would you like to work with a diverse group of young people?
  • Do you have ideas about how we could change health and wellbeing services?
  • Are you interested in gaining leadership, advocacy and policy skills?
  • COVID-19 is disrupting the world as we know it and will force us to reimagine the services we want in the future. Do you want to have a voice in shaping that?

In 2018 the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) launched their Youth Health Forum – a group of young healthcare users who are passionate about making the system more youth-friendly and interested in gaining advocacy skills. So far they have been involved in a number of national policy discussions like the Primary Health Care 10 year plan and the National Obesity Strategy. (And you can find out more about their progress at these posts on the CHF site.)

RIGHT NOW the CHF is looking to grow and develop this platform for young voices and is inviting Expressions of Interest for new members.

Click here for more details and
To apply, complete and submit this online form or this MS Word form.

This is YOUR chance to shape the health services you and other young people access. AND gain some valuable skills in the process.

Take your experience to the people that provide the services … and make healthcare work better for people like you!

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.

Youth Mental Health Consumer Opportunity … 18–29 year olds PLEASE APPLY

As services for young people with mental health issues continue to be addressed by the Health Department of the Queensland state government, an opportunity has opened up for someone with lived experience with mental healthcare services to directly contribute to what is provided across the state in the future. And if you’re between 18 and 29, your experience is particularly relevant so although consumers of any age can apply, it would be incredibly useful to have the perspective of a young person who has had accessed mental healthcare relatively recently or is still doing so.

The aim is to provide what is genuinely needed and what will work, particularly for those who are dealing with severe and complex mental health issues.
And no one knows better than a young person who has had direct contact with  government services  (even if  youth-specific programs/treament or otherwise (if no age-appropriate options exist in your area of need).

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW.

So if you’re in a position to be able to participate in monthly meetings, you will be extremely well-supported and receive payment for your time and input (as well as reimbursement for travel expenses within the Brisbane area).

This role is as a Consumer Representative for the
Youth Mental Health – Capital Program.

(“Capital” in this government context usually means the creation/acquisition of buildings/land and/or alterations/additions to those e.g. projects that focus on new facilities in which services will be provided.)

The successful applicant will join another consumer representative and a carer representative on the Project Implementation Group which oversees the capital program – ensuring that projects are managed and advice/direction is provided to support the timely and successful delivery of the mental health facilities. In this case, a major component of the work has focussed on the design and development – and now construction – of the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility at Chermside. Consumers and carer reps have been involved throughout the entire process so far to make sure that every aspect of the design of the new centre is what will be best for the young people who’ll need it.

[For more general information on how the government has responded to the multiple recommendations from the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry (BACCOI), you can go to Queensland Health’s youth mental health site at https://www.health.qld.gov.au/improvement/youthmentalhealth]

To put an in Expression of Interest for the Consumer Representative,
you can find more information here at the Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ)* site.

where you can access an Expression of Interest form to complete and email to: Leonie Sanderson, HCQ Engagement Advisor: leonie.sanderson@hcq.org.au
by midday Friday 15 February 2019 (the official closing date for applications).
However, please phone Leonie on 0437 637 033 if you are interested in applying but are unable to submit by this date.


* HCQ is not a government organisation but a a not-for-profit peak body and a registered health promotion charity representing the interests of health consumers and carers in the state

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.

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!

NATIONAL Developments in Mental Health Services

MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE PREVENTION MONITORING AND REPORTING FRAMEWORK

The National Mental Health Commission is developing a long-term monitoring and reporting framework to bring a national perspective to mental health and suicide prevention through the lens of consumers and carers and their experiences. This will enable the Commission to deliver an independent, consistent and comprehensive account of reform progress and support the Commission’s new role to monitor and report the implementation of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (see next item for more on the Plan).

CONSULTATION

The national consultation process on the draft Framework (being conducted from 16 October to 13 November 2017 and involving workshops in capital cities across Australia) will engage a broad cross-section of stakeholders in government, primary health networks, mental health peak bodies and service providers and professional bodies with consumers and carers seen as key representatives with invaluable input to provide.
SO YOU CAN BE DIRECTLY INVOLVED!
Attendees of the workshops will receive a copy of the draft Framework at least one week in advance and an on-line portal for submissions will also be conducted during this timeframe.

The aim is for the Commission to receive targeted feedback on the draft Framework’s priorities, potential gaps, and the availability of data to support the monitoring and reporting of mental health and suicide prevention in Australia.

This consultation NEEDS the voices of those with LIVED EXPERIENCE.

 

The Brisbane workshop is from 9.30am – 2.00pm on Monday 30 October and Hotel Jen on Roma Street, Brisbane and attendance is FREE. If you’d like to register to attend, you can go directly to the booking page at this link or for more information about this or other workshop locations, contact vanessa.d’souza@mentalhealthcommission.gov.au or via www.mentalhealthcommission.gov.au

Online Consultation Survey

For those who can’t attend the workshop, you can provide your input via the online survey here. Or if you’d like to enquire about other ways to contribute, Nous Group (who are working with the Commission to develop the national Framework) can be contacted on nhmc.mrf@nousgroup.com.au.

 

RELEASE OF FIFTH NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE PREVENTION PLAN

With seemingly little publicity, Australia’s Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan was released on 14 October. The press release*  indicates that:

A particular focus of the Plan is addressing eating disorders. These can have a catastrophic impact on both individuals and their families. It will be a personal priority as we frame further policy in the future. The Plan includes eight nationally agreed priority areas and 32 coordinated actions for the next five years with a view to achieving an integrated mental health system. A key priority area is strengthening regional integration of mental health services to support more effective treatments for those in need.

[* The press release also mentions HEAD TO HEALTH, the federal government’s digital mental health resources site. It’s a very user-friendly interface where consumers and carers can access a range of service providers, support for specific mental health issues etc. so you might want to check it out.]

So, as stated above, since the role of the NMHC is to monitor and report the implementation of the plan, those ‘on the ground’ are in a key position to provide input on if those tasks are being carried out effectively. So ongoing/intermittment contact with the activities of the NMHC will be valuable.  On the home page of the National Mental Health Commission, there’s a ‘Get Involved’ box where you can sign up to receive eNews updates so that could be a useful way to stay informed.

OR …

BECOME A QUEENSLAND REP FOR THE NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH CONSUMER AND CARER FORUM

The NMHCCF provides a mechanism for mental health consumers and carers to foster partnerships and to ensure input of consumers and carers into the activities of the mental health sector, including policy, service delivery and evaluation of reform in Australia. And the Queensland Mental Health Commission is overseeing the recruitment of:

  • a Queensland CONSUMER representative and
  • a Queensland CARER representative

General information on these roles – which are remunerated – can be found here and the Operating Guidelines for the NMHCCF (including Terms of Reference for the rep roles) are here. The closing date for Expressions of Interest in the roles is 17 November.

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One thing that must be said after all these opportunities for involvement are listed is that WE KNOW that those directly affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues are rarely in a position to be able to attend workshops, regular meetings or commit to an engagement role on an ongoing basis. So we will always try and find ways that you, within the context of your lives, can provide feedback – whether it be via online surveys, direct contact (phone/email) with those managing a consultation process OR by utilising the amazingly dedicated services of Health Consumers Queensland as a conduit. Leonie Sanderson’s role is to represent the needs of those affected in this area so you can get in touch with her for her advice on how your own experiences and ideas can be communicated to those who can utilise those to change service provision and attitudes. We can’t avoid working with bureaucracies, large business-like entities and others in official capacities who don’t always have a true understanding of the daily lives of people in the cohort for which they’re planning. These people are the ones who can make the services what they need to beSo we’ll always be endeavouring to find ways that those who LIVE severe adolescent mental issues can pass on their vital insights to those who provide the services available to support the people whose needs are so great.


 

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.

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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.

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