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


 

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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.

*

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.

$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.)

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