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!

NEEDED: Youth Peer Worker for Jacaranda Place

If you’re a young person with lived experience of mental illness who has experienced recovery, you can – with specialised training – support others with mental health difficulties by providing hope and modelling positive strategies and outcomes.

The new Extended Treatment Centre for young people at Chermside in Brisbane will have a number of Peer Workers and Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) have just begun advertising for an:

 Advanced Peer Worker (Youth)
(click above to go to job listing)

As well as sharing your own lived experience and life stories, you will encourage self-awareness and self-determination in those at a different stage of recovery. You’ll be part of the development, planning and delivery of support services to consumers, carers and families and your capacity to model recovery strategies will allow service providers and Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) to develop a better understanding of the best framework to achieve positive outcomes for young people and their families.


There are healthcare staff and education staff and other people with qualifications and skills who can help young people with mental health issues. But no one has the expertise of a young person who has lived experience.

Being a Peer Worker in this field is an incredibly valuable role. Not only do you know better than most how it feels to be in the position of the young people who’ll need Jacaranda Place … but you know that the most important people in the lives of young people can be OTHER young people. You’re not at a distance considering what their life might be like. You’re them but just further along the recovery path. So a Peer Worker at the new centre will be a key member of the team.

To find out more, go to the job advertisement by clicking here.

There, you can also access the Role Description and a general Information package about working for Children’s Health Queensland (the Hospital and Health Service responsible for the new AETC).

If you’re in recovery and you feel you could help others along the way to a better future, consider applying for this position.

You could make a real difference in the lives of people who need to know it’s possible.

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.

*KEY ROLES FOR CONSUMERS AND CARERS in Selection of New Centre’s Staff

People with lived experience of severe and complex youth mental health issues have shaped the design of the new inpatient extended treatment centre at Chermside. They have had input into the model of care. AND NOW …

THEY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SIT ON THE SELECTION PANEL FOR THOSE THAT WILL STAFF THE CENTRE.

Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) –the Hospital and Health Service under which the new AETC will operate – is committed to having consumers and carers as equal and valued members of the selection panel that will determine the appointments of professionals in the clinical roles at the Chermside Centre.

 

So Expressions of Interest are being invited now
with applications closing on 19 July
for Consumers and Carers to submit their completed forms.*

Consumer and Carers involved will, as has been the case throughout the development of the AETC, be comprehensively supported by Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) and there will be

  • A 90 minute training session for every consumer/carer who becomes involved in the recruitment process as well as opportunities for pre-brief and post-interview debriefing
  • Reimbursement for travel and parking expenses and
  • Remuneration for time spent training, pre-reading, shortlisting, and interviewing at $40 per hour

We all know that it’s the PEOPLE that make a facility into a HEALING ENVIRONMENT.
And now, it’s those with the personal experience of the types of individuals who can do that whose contributions can lead to the selection of the team who will change lives.

YOU KNOW WHO’S NEEDED.

SO PUT IN AN EXPRESSION OF INTEREST TO BE AT THE TABLE OF THOSE APPOINTING THE STAFF WHO WILL COLLABORATE, RESPECT AND UNDERSTAND.

 

For more information, you can download the following documents:

CHQ on Consumer and Carer Involvement in Staff Recruitment

HCQ’s Recruitment Training

and to put in an Expression of Interest, just click on the link here to download the form.

OR

you can go to the dedicated page on the HCQ website for all you need.

*Note that if you can’t get your form in by 19 July and you still want to apply, you can contact Leonie Sanderson of HCQ on 0437 637 033.

And PLEASE, share this post as widely as possible to give all consumers and carers who might be interested the opportunity to be involved. 

IMPORTANT DECISIONS REQUIRE IMPORTANT PEOPLE 
and the most important people in this process are the Queenslanders who REALLY KNOW about severe and complex youth mental health issues.

Deadline extended for Youth Mental Health Consumer Rep role

Please note that due to a technical glitch with the Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) website, the deadline for applications for the available Youth Mental Health Consumer Rep role has been extended to Friday 22nd February. So please continue to encourage anyone you know who might have expressed an interest to put in their application.

Click below to go directly to the HCQ page:

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH CONSUMER REPRESENTATIVE OPPORTUNITY

or access information from our previous post at:

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


 

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.

CALLING ALL YOUNG PEOPLE WITH OPINIONS AND IDEAS!!

A lot of different people have been involved in the co-design process still underway for the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility to be built at Chermside in Brisbane. And recently the most important people so far have begun to have input – Education Queensland and Health Consumers Queensland were able to facilitate a workshop that included a number of YOUNG PEOPLE THEMSELVES, all of whom made incredibly valuable contributions that will shape many aspects of the new centre.

So now, the Department of Education would like to hear from more young people on issues like:

  • what classrooms and outdoor learning areas should look like
  • what activities the young people attending the centre should be able to participate in
  • how the centre can have as comfortable and homey environment as it possible
  • what skills and knowledge teachers at the centre should have

IN FACT, ANY IDEAS AT ALL!

So …

IF YOU’RE A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT / SOMEONE WHO WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IN THE LAST 6 YEARS OR SO – OR YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO FITS THAT DESCRIPTION, please spread the word and encourage young people to

TAKE THE SURVEY

It’s quick, easy and online.

And if young people have had experience (personally or through someone else) with mental health issues, those insights would be especially interesting to learn.
But any young person who has ideas on what might be important in a health and education centre that’s going to have residents and day students attending where the focus is on healing and hope for the future can make a really useful contribution.

The survey is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9WXM99Y
so please use the sharing buttons below to share this post and encourage young people to have their say.

The real experts on what works for young people are young people.
So as many insights as possible from those who know will ensure that the new centre has the best chance of being the place that everyone is hoping it will be.

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.

 

Mental Health the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE to Young People

The Annual Mission Australia Youth Survey has, for the first time in its history, found that the most important issue to Australian young people is MENTAL HEALTH.

The survey report reveals that concerns about mental health have doubled since 2015 and tripled since 2011. Other top issues of national concern included alcohol and drugs and equity and discrimination. … Many of the personal concerns reported by young people relate to their own mental health, including coping with stress, body image and depression, and mental health was also identified by many young people as a possible barrier to achieving their work or study goals after school. This reinforces that much more needs to be done to ensure that young people can access the right mental health supports when they need them.
From Highlights from the 2017 Youth Survey at https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/what-we-do/research-evaluation/youth-survey

This only serves to emphasise how vital the right mental health supports” for young people are and that including young people themselves in the process of developing these services is the only way to ensure that what is available meets their needs. This means that the contributions of those with direct experience of caring for young people with mental health issues is essential as not only can severe and/or complex youth mental health issues unfortunately prohibit the active involvement of some young people themselves but carers and families have their own needs and issues and clinical professionals in treatment roles have valuable perspectives.
Working TOGETHER –  respecting and valuing the input of every individual with relevant experience – will always achieve the best outcomes. And that’s what Australia’s young people need.

 

HOW TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Any young person or carer in Queensland who is not currently making an active contribution to the PLANNING of the BEST services possible to support young people with mental health issues can do so if they wish. To find out ways to directly participate, contact HEALTH CONSUMERS QUEENSLAND via:

EMAIL TO LEONIE SANDERSON (the Engagement Advisor specifically for Youth Mental Health): Leonie.Sanderson@hcq.org.au
PHONE: 07 3012 9090
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/healthconsumersqueensland

NOTE: There are always ways that your privacy and identity can be protected should that be a priority.
The range of contribution/involvement approaches allow for different levels and types of commitment. These span online surveys or email/phone comments via HCQ  TO active membership of committees/groups/workshops to achieve specific objectives.

The severeyouthmentalhealth website also endeavours to keep people updated as to particular activities underway via the Get Involved! page

 

The full Mission Australia report, along with
  • an infographics document of 2 pages which illustrates the key findings of the survey and
  • an analysis which compares responses from major cities and regional areas
is available from the Mission Australia website here

In addition, news reports with summary information and regional relevance are accessible via the links below:

The Brisbane Times – Mental Health the Number Issue for Young Queenslanders

NewsCorp – Young Australians worry most about mental health, Mission Australia survey finds

The World Today, ABC – Mental health ‘biggest national issue’ for young people – survey (audio)

The Educator – Students’ mental health concerns double since 2015 – survey

The West Australian – Mental health an increasing concern for young West Aussies, survey reveals

 

If you feel that information in this post may be useful/interesting to others who might not be regular visitors to severeyouthmentalhealth.org, please use the social media buttons below to share. Thanks! 

*

 

 

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.

*