Times Like These

For those suffering from mental health issues, what’s happening in the world right now will be particularly challenging. The unpredictability. The change. Those are the kryptonite of the anxious.

The ‘unprecedented’ nature of the current situation might feel overwhelming. But as I think about the courageous young people I have met and heard about over the last 7 years, I can’t avoid the fact that they have resources of tenacity and strength that I previously didn’t know existed.

This is indisputably true.

It’s not empty flattery or encouragement. It is a fact.

I once wrote a children’s story about what ‘brave’ is. The message is simply that brave is feeling fear and still trying. And young people with severe mental health issues do that every day. Just when they think they’ve felt the worst that they could feel, their brain throws a curveball and it seems like maybe the thought or feeling right now is even worse than that. That’s the nature of mental illness.

And yet, these amazing young people keeping going.
They put one foot in front of the other.
They breathe in. They breathe out.
And time passes.
And something that might not have seemed possible happens … 
One day they realise that they don’t feel quite as bad as they did.

That they’ve done some things and maybe interacted with some people.
And they might just have reached the other side of that torrent of fear. 

Not in an instant. 
Not like a switch turning off.
But gradually, bit by bit. Getting through it.

That is what will happen with the coronavirus and the measures needed to minimise its impact.

This will end, every pandemic and epidemic will end.

The world will get to the other side.

It might feel to so many that there have never been ‘times like these’ before. So reassurance can feel empty. But there have never been times like any particular time period. There has never been another minute like the minute that just passed. Never been a Christmas like last Christmas.  Every time is history is unique. So this one, in that respect is no different.

So we can’t overlook that:

  • there has never been a time when science and medicine have been so advanced.
  • there has never been a time when knowledge can be so quickly shared.
  • there has never been a time when we could stay at home AND see our friends via a screen AND discover how to make a snack from the things that had disappeared into the pantry’s black hole. AND play video games with someone on the other side of the world AND think of our favourite movie and then watch it on a phone AND join a universal quest to be the most impressive at throwing paper into a bin.
But interestingly, there is an exception to this rule of unique times.
An important exception that can’t be denied.

If you are one of those young people who has had challenges and got to the other side, you can’t ignore the fact that you have done this before.
That you have felt the weight and pushed through it.
That you have experienced that eternal internal scream that eventually hushed.
That you have got through before. So you will get through again.

Because you have the strength and the skills to do it. Even when you think you don’t.

You’ve proved it already. You’ve done it already. (And there others around you who might not have.)
You have the EXPERIENCE and the RESOURCES.
And never forget that you have the SUPPORT.
You have people who are sending you their strength and their love and their energy.
People you know. And even people like me who you don’t know.
But mostly you’ve got the COURAGE. Based on the clear definition, you are BRAVE.
So you’ve got this one.
Just breathe in. And breathe out. 
And FaceTime a friend.
Watch a Koala on Livestream while you listen to some soothing music.
Tell your grandma a joke on Facebook.
Download an app that’ll make cuisine from the ingredients you’ve got (or just go ahead a make that m&m sandwich)
Think of someone you can help just by staying where you are.

You know you can do it.

So tell someone else that they can too.

And we’ll all get to the other side together.

Have your say(ing) on the new Centre!

Your inspirational quotes required for the walls of the gym of the Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre

Today, as part of the co-design process, a group of young people/consumers took part in a furnishing and fit-outs planning session to select a range of sheets, aprons, seat coverings and wall vinyls for the new inpatient centre currently under construction at Chermside. They all agreed they’d like to see inspirational quotes on the wall of the gym, designed in a contemporary graphic style.

Inspirational quotes will replace the colourful abstract design on the wall in this 3D rendering of the AETC gym

SO THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO MAKE YOUR MARK on the place founded on values that include some of the following:

Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) – the Hospital and Health Service that has responsibility for the new centre – will consider all quotes submitted. They can be from your personal experience or perhaps an authored quote that has resonated for you and could encourage the young people staying at the Centre to continue their courageous journey to recovery. Any appropriate quotes that can’t be fitted into the gym wall design will be considered for wall decals that may be included in other areas of the building.

A suggested –but not essential – format for your ‘quote’ is:

This too shall pass” – Kayden

SO …

Please use the comment box below to submit your quotes and severeyouthmentalhealth.org will pass all your suggestions on to CHQ for consideration at the end of September 2019. (If you’d like to pass something on but not have your input on display online, you can email your suggestions to Leonie Sanderson of Health Consumers Queensland and she will pass on your ideas for consideration.)

And YOU could end up providing inspiration to generations of young Queenslanders for whom all support will be truly invaluable!


 

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!

WANTED: Young People with Opinions and Experience!

NEWS

Following  the news posted recently about the engagement of two independent organisations to review the alignment and transition arrangements between adolescent and adult mental health services in Queensland, Health Consumers Queensland is hosting a forum run by Health Outcomes International to ensure the most important voices are heard on this issue i.e.

 the views of older adolescents and young people who have lived experience of mental health issues and have had contact with mental health services. 

Young people from 18 to 27 years are encouraged to attend, dial in to videoconference or submit their input to the issues being discussed via email. Through whatever means young people with experience in this area are able to communicate their opinions, it’s important that they are heard. It’s only through knowing what’s been happening that isn’t working that those approaches can be changed and we can put all our efforts into ensuring that the support, processes and services that will actually help are made available. SO … the independent reviewers are doing best to make sure that young people can gather together in a neutral environment – without service providers or government representatives – to air their concerns. This will take place at

Health Consumers Queensland Level 9, 217 George Street BRISBANE QLD 4000

on Thursday 1 June 2017, 1.30 pm – 3.00pm (approximately 1.5 hours)

RSVP: V􀁳anessaH􀀬@hoi.com.au

(If you need to bring a support person, please indicate that in your RSVP and be aware that this forum is to allow free-flowing discussion between young people so all attendees should help to foster that environment.)

FULL DETAILS of the youth forum are on the flyer that can be viewed/downloaded here.

The independent reviewers understand, though, that not everyone will have the capacity to attend. But that doesn’t mean those young people can’t have their say.

 For more information about linking in by videoconference, or to request an interpreter please contact Samantha Battams: 08 83633699 or samantha@hoi.com.au

Young people can also use the Word document available here to download or copy/paste into an email to give feedback on any of the issues to be discussed. They can then send these to either Samantha Battams or to Leonie Sanderson (Health Consumers Queensland) with the assurance that their comments will be included without any identifying information included. Privacy and confidentiality are recognised as vital in this process so HOI have guaranteed that …

 The session will be confidential in that no-one will be individually identified in the review.

 Please share this post with anyone you know who may have valuable experience in this area. The only chance we have to repair/replace the areas of the system that are failing  is if the true experts – those who’ve lived through direct experience of transition from adolescent to adult services – provide their insights. The benefits to other young people in the future will be immeasurable.

AND PLEASE DON’T FORGET … ANYONE with insights into the transition from adolescent to adult services for people with mental health issues in queensland can complete the independently run online surveY HERE.

The more you say, the more things can change.

Progress in Youth Mental Health Planning

NEWS

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

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK – Time for ACTION

A BLOG POST

It’s Mental Health Week. And in the past, that has meant a lot of awareness-raising, stigma-quashing and acknowledgement of an issue that has for too long been treated like a shameful secret. And that’s all good, useful stuff. But the time has long since passed for more than knowing nods and pleasant words from those with the capacity to DO instead of DISCUSS.

Mental illness needs ACTION. NOW.

Health service providers, governments, mental health commissions/ advocates/ peak bodies and communities must move from rhetoric to establishing equitable service provision immediately. Otherwise how can anyone believe that mental health issues are, in fact, the cruel scourge afflicting millions unfairly as the annual PR tells us? We know they exist. And, thankfully, we now have knowledge of a range of pharmaceutical adjustments, treatment methods and support programs that mean these issues can be addressed. People CAN heal and progress and discover lives without the agony they once believed was infinite. BUT until the money, time and effort allocated to mental health is in line with those physical health issues that have the same level of impact, people affected by mental illness can’t feel as far from personally responsible for their health concerns as those with a blood disease or multiple sclerosis can. Continue reading

The potential for a new approach based on genuine understanding ­– Part 3

NEWS

An inpatient extended treatment and rehabilitation service with onsite schooling for adolescents to young adults (adulthood rarely begins at 18 years when mental health issues have hindered social and emotional maturity) must consider some essential factors in order to stimulate positive change in the lives of those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues. Continue reading

Government Response to Barrett Commission of Inquiry Recommendations So Far

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

2016 Mental Health Policy: M.I.A

A BLOG POST

When Professor Pat McGorry (Executive Director, Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health and former Australian of the Year) addressed the National Press Club in the lead-up to the election with a presentation asserting that our governments have been Missing in Action, we would have expected that our politicians would respond immediately. Continue reading

Another Specialised Mental Health Service Axed

The ABC are reporting today that Australia’s only dedicated support service for people with eating disorders is set to be axed next year.

The helpline (1800 ED HOPE/1800 33 4673) and web support run by the Butterfly Foundation Continue reading