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.

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Inquest into deaths of Barrett Centre young people begins

Today was the first day of the inquest into the tragic deaths of Talieha Nebauer, Will Fowell and Caitlin Wilkinson Whiticker.

Being overseen by Deputy State Coroner John Lock, the entire process is scheduled to run across a number of weeks, with a number of the parties (i.e. individuals, groups, government bodies etc.) directly involved in the Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry (BACCOI) also represented at these proceedings (in some cases by the same legal counsel). Each young person’s situation will be scrutinised over several days before a final procedure where the collective issues will be examined so as to address the need to consider “opportunities to improve management of the risk of suicide“, as noted in the prioritised issues listed on the Inquest Schedule.

It has been a long and difficult wait for the families who lost young people more than four years ago. Many of the others involved – politicians, those involved in professional roles etc. – have been able to go on with their lives since the days in 2014 when those close to Talieha, Will and Caitlin were forced to face an existence without those they loved. And then again then since the procedure and conclusion of the BACCOI. But since the COI took a clear position to not encroach on any areas that could relate to an inquest – those being in the Coroner’s jurisdiction – Justice Margaret Wilson was not in a position to provide families with the answers they have needed. In fact, due to the time constraints of the COI, it was deemed necessary to ‘draw a line in the sand’ as regards a timeframe for consideration of consequences of the closure:

“This temporal limitation meant that the Commission’s factual inquiry started at the beginning of the transition and ended around one month after the transition client’s discharge from the BAC. The Commission’s terms of reference, and its factual inquiry, do not extend to a consideration of the following matters:

  • the immediate cause or root causes of the deaths of the three young people who died in 2014 who had formerly been patients of the BAC
  • whether those deaths were caused by or contributed to or affected by the closure of the BAC in early 2014
  • whether those deaths were caused by or contributed to or affected by the transition arrangements or the adequacy of care provided by the various receiving services.

Those are matters for the Coroner.”

Barrett Adolescent Centre Commission of Inquiry Report
p 385 of printed document, p 398 of pdf (
Click here to access)

This earlier post may provide more clarity on the relation of the findings of the COI to the coronial inquest. But it is clear that the Coroner’s office, in holding a combined inquest procedure for the three young people, has determined that the closure of the Barrett Centre must be examined as a factor in the deaths as, tragically, that is the key event that links all three.

This will be an extremely challenging process for those who have been emotionally affected by the losses of Talieha, Will and Caitlin and by the closure of the Barrett Centre. To relive trauma numerous times is a debilitating experience and to have to do so in a formal legal arena where events, accounts and perspectives will be questioned by those defending the positions of other individuals and groups will be gruelling.

It is rare to find anyone in our communities these days who has not been impacted by mental health issues in some way so we know that many people will be feeling for those whose lives have been changed dramatically because of severe and complex mental health issues in adolesence. And particularly now for those who lost three treasured young people. So perhaps, as the news reports are filed and the lawyers quoted, we should all keep in mind that this inquest is about 

TALIEHA

WILL

and 

CAITLIN

There are many people who have never, and will never, forget them.

So may this process provide the answers that these three deserve.


Note: Coverage by the ABC Radio’s ‘The World Today’ program can be listened to by clicking here.

All reporting on this and on other issues related to severe and complex mental youth health can be found on our In the Media‘ page.

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!

Focus on Education

At a time when many adolescents across Queensland are enjoying school holidays, it’s worth remembering that there are no holidays from mental illness. And for a number of young people and their families/carers affected by severe and complex mental health issues, there are, in essence, no schools or education services either.

When the idea of leaving home induces vomiting, then attendance at a local school – often the site of past traumas and definitely a place of multiple sources of stress – is impossible. …
When speaking online to participate in Distance Education is so overwhelming  that considering it triggers extreme anxiety, …
what is left to allow you to be part of your peer group, a member of society; discovering ways to learn and interact and develop towards a productive adult life??


People with direct experience with severe and complex youth mental health issues know that the right healthcare is essential. But they’re also aware that even the understanding and inclusive treatment from trusted clinicians is often not enough to bring a stable foundation to lives that have been impacted in EVERY respect.

The Queensland Department of Education School that was part of the Barrett Adolescent Centre at Wacol was a real-life illustration of the vital role that supportive specialised education, training and rehabilitation plays in enabling young people to develop the skills and abilities that will be the basis of a future of social interaction, personal achievement, acquisition of lifeskills and of the fundamentals of learning that can lead to vocational/academic pursuits. And more. Through a carefully planned education environment and program, young people who have been disengaged from education and from social/community activities for an extended period can discover their potential, interests and hope for the future. This is vital. Particularly when an unsuitable educational/social environment is likely to have already exacerbated many aspects of their challenging mental health conditions. This means that a comprehensively student-focussed approach – one that acknowledges their vulnerabilities and respects their worth – is the only way to facilitate a path back to a life of growth and accomplishment. And surely every young person deserves the opportunity to live that kind of life – especially considering the trauma they’ve already endured and the unfair hand they have been dealt in relation to their health.

So, it’s extremely positive that the Department of Education are partnering with the Health Department during the current stage of development of services for young people following the recommendations from the BAC Commission of Inquiry.

Consumers and carers continue to advocate for ALL the needs of the young people for whom services have been lacking for so long. So, with the help of Health Consumers Queensland, the consumer/carer representatives directly involved in the ongoing co-design of services have pressed for a strong focus on the education and rehabilitation component of the new facility to be built at Chermside. And, in addition, they continue to promote the importance of educational components that will complement other services with the continuum of care for young people with mental health issues e.g. Step Up/ Step Down programs, young people accessing AMYOS support in the community … etc. When mental health issues affect EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE, then EVERY ASPECT OF A YOUNG PERSON’S LIFE MUST BE STRUCTURED TO ENABLE POSITIVE DEVELOPMENTS (and not undermine effective healthcare or aggravate the ongoing struggle to find appropriate treatment). In the same way that the BAC Inquiry revealed a gap in awareness in health service providers in relation to the existence and needs of the group of young people and their families who endure the complexity and severity at the extreme end of the mental health spectrum, it’s been interesting to note that those handling education service provision can, despite good intentions, have been uninformed about this cohort and what they require. With those affected forced to focus on survival from day-to-day (or even minute-to-minute) and only a small number of educators with expertise and experience in this area, we’re looking for ways to spread the word about the importance of specialised education in the multidisciplinary approach to supporting those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues. So, with that in mind, this post is to provide links to information at severeyouthmentalhealth.org that might help to achieve that

 

The introductory Education & Training page

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-qe)
outlines a couple of major reasons that expert education and rehabilitation will always be an essential component in the range of services required by this cohort.

 

The Inpatient School: Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-qw)
explains how the school within a residential youth mental health facility with a multidisciplinary approach needs to operate to play the educational role that is key in affecting positive change for young people for whom the severity and complexity of their mental health issues has meant that no other treatment or education options have been effective.

 

The Support School: Community-based Young People

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-qy)
is likely to be a revelation to many as the students who require this service had not been acknowledged as a specific group different to those within the severe and complex cohort who require extended inpatient treatment until recently. However, thanks to the support of the Queensland Education Department for the Barrett School (which has continued operation since closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre in January 2014), young people still able to engage with community-based mental health services have been referred to the relocated Barrett School at Tennyson because there has been no EDUCATION service to meet their needs. Their needs have parallels with the ‘extended inpatient cohort’ but there are clear and distinct differences in the approach and management of an education program and environment to meet the specific needs of this community-based group.

 

The Future of Education in Severe Youth Mental Health

(shortlink: https://wp.me/P7lCk2-r7)
describes some possible options for continuing to address the needs of young Queenslanders whose mental health issues compromise every aspect of their lives – and that of their families/carers – in an era when no one can deny that mental illness needs to be the Number One Priority in addressing the needs of young people.

 

We hope that you’ll share some of the information on these pages wherever you can. And we’ll continue to update you about progress in the vital area of EDUCATION for those affected by SEVERE AND COMPLEX YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.
Because, essentially, education is not simply a priority for our most vulnerable young people, it should be a priority for service providers (government, NGOs and private) and, of course for all of us seeking to better understand the communities we live in and needs of our family members, friends and neighbours.

COMMUNITY INPUT REQUIRED re: Educational Needs of Young People with chronic/complex health conditions

Young people with chronic health or complex mental health conditions require more than simply healthcare. As they grow and develop – and hopefully receive the most effective treatment for their illness/es – their growth and development in all areas must be considered and supported, as is the case with all young people.

So, as the Health Department and Health Consumers Queensland facilitate the engagement of the wider community in the design and development of the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility for young people recovering from complex mental health conditions, Queensland’s Education Department is enthusiastic about embracing the input of those with lived experience in order to meet the educational needs of young people at the AETF AND through all stages of chronic illness and/or severe and complex mental health issues.

So, as part of the Department of Education’s commitment to developing and implementing a statewide continuum of educational delivery to support all students dealing with these kinds of health impacts, there will be a community forum where anyone can attend to put forward opinions, ideas and feedback around how to best support the educational needs of young people recovering from chronic health or complex mental health conditions.

Discussion will include issues relating to the new facility (to be located at The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane that is due to open in 2020) which will include residential facilities, day program treatment and therapy, and a school program. But young people move to and from different levels of healthcare service and, across Queensland, health issues and their impacts vary with each young person. So each student has specific needs in regard to accessing and gaining benefit from educational opportunities. So the Department of Education would like to ensure that all those needs are met. And only with the input of those who have needed and will need access to education across different circumstances can the full spectrum of types of education, training and rehabilitation services be planned for and provided.

So anyone who has an interest is invited to the:

Consultation Workshop

on

Monday 30 April, 9.15am–12.00pm

at

Conference Room, Autism Hub & Reading Centre (AHRC)
141 Merton Road (Cnr Park Road), Woolloongabba

(The AHRC is next to Park Road train station and Boggo Road bus station and there if free parking available onsite.)

If you click here or on any links in this post, you’ll be taken to the Eventbrite page where you can register to attend.

The program will be as follows:

9.15am–9.30am: Registration

9.30am–10.00am: Introduction presentation

10.00am–11.30am: Consumer workshop; Carer workshop

11.30am–12.00pm: Light lunch and refreshments

Reimbursement for attendance is provided.
Please advise of any dietary requirements.

Please share this on social media or with anyone you feel might be able to contribute in some way. The more that the people with firsthand knowledge can impart to those developing services, the more likely that Queensland’s young people will receive the invaluable education services that can make a significant difference to their lives.

Thank you.

Federal Funding Boost for Youth Mental Health. But …

The federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, today announced a financial package of more than $100 million to support strategies targeting young mental health issues, stating:

“Programs for beyondblue, Headspace, Origin and Kids Helpline and Reach Out and others are all about ensuring that we provide assistance before the problems emerge and when they do emerge there are avenues for treatment and avenues for people to seek emergency help.”

Some of funds will be distributed as follows:

  • $46 million has been allocated to beyondblue’s integrated school-based Mental Health in Education initiative (a new national program to encourage good mental health and wellbeing practices operating from early learning centres to the end of secondary school where the aim is to give parents and educators the tools to recognise the early warning signs of mental health challenges and deal with them through access to a range of face-to-face or online mental health programs)
  • $13.5m has been allocated to the Orygen National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health which Orygen Executive Director, Professor Patrick McGorry, indicated would to maintain youth mental health services including Headspace centres throughout Australia*
  • Kids Helpline, ReachOut, Suicide Callback Service and QLife will share an additional $2 million over two years for telephone, webchat and online mental health help.

* While the Guardian quoted Professor McGorry as saying that the funding would not provide for any new centres, ABC News stated that “more Headspace centres will be set up across Australia, with a funding boost of $30 million”

HOWEVER …

as those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues know all too well:

…while a lot of young people get access to help through Headspace, one third of those who go to headspace are too complex for headspace alone, and they become trapped in a bottleneck in the system where they can’t get the specialised care they need.”

Patrick McGorry, 8 January 2018

So Professor McGorry made very clear that this financial injection must be just the beginning.  “We need to finish the job of national coverage,. … What’s really missing is expert, team-based care that organisations like Orygen provide, and which is in very short supply.

The Orygen founder emphasised the importance of further funding  to meet complex care needs, listing some specifics that needed addressing as:

  • the lifting of 10-session cap on allied mental health sessions, and
  • a significant allocation of funds for mobile and home-based interventions.

These are just SOME of the things that all mental health peak bodies and advocates MUST continue to lobby for.

Those at the severe and complex end of the spectrum are too often overlooked – perhaps because they are smaller in number than those for whom Headspace and other early intervention programs can achieve positive outcomes. But the more severe and complex, the more serious the ongoing impact on young people, their family, friends and wider community. The suffering that many endure is impossible for most people to imagine. Severe and complex youth mental health issues are 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. So professional management of the multiple services that are inevitably required will be a key aspect of delivery.

Available and accessible integrated, multidisciplinary programs that encompass treatment, education/training and rehabilitation are vital. And until those are adequately funded on an ongoing basis, the government still has much to do to make mental health the priority that it must be.

 

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.

*

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.


 

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.

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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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