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!

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Mental Health Resources

The following are focused on Queensland/Australia but there are some international resources. Included are some links with useful general advice as well as services for those with pre-existing mental health issues and their carers. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list. If you know of other resources that would be useful, please leave a comment and this list will be added to whenever possible.

Take care, everyone. Look after yourself as well as the significant things you are doing for other people. (And you are ALL doing that – any changes you’ve made will be saving others from having to deal with challenging health issues – so acknowledge your contribution and make sure you take the best care you can of your mental health.)

Head to Health – helping you find the right digital mental health resources for your needs
MindSpot Online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression
ReachOut – Coping during coronavirus (COVID-19)
KidsHelpline (for ages 5yrs-25yrs)– tips and advice as well as ACCESS TO 24/7 support via phone (FREE) 1800 55 1800, email counselling, or  web chat
Beyond Blue COVID-19 mental health support service
Black Dog Institute – COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing resources
Headspace –  How to cope with stress related to coronavirus (COVID-19)
#InThisTogether – the National Mental Health Commission page with tips and links to help with mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus crisis
Queensland Mental Health Commission – COVID-19 and Mental Health
Australian Psychological Society – tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
Arafmi – 24hr carer helpline at 1300 554 660 and online carer support groups
Blue Knot (National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma) – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Factsheets
Australian BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) Foundation Ltd – video ‘Strategies for getting through COVID-19 lockdown for people with BPD
Red Cross – tips for looking after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic
World Health Organisation – Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

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.

New AETC named Jacaranda Place

Today, as Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk visited the completed statewide Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (AETC) at Chermside with Health Minister Stephen Miles and the member for Stafford, Dr Anthony Lynham, she announced that the facility was to be called Jacaranda Place. (Ten News First’s coverage – accessible by clicking here – has a full report and footage of the exterior and the interior as the Premier tours the finished centre.)

PremierTweetJacarandaPlace

The final design of the centre has been the result of extensive input from a large number of consumers and carers with lived experience of severe and complex mental health issues in young people following the closure of the Barrett Centre in 2013/14 and the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry into that closure.

Jacaranda Place is a 12 bed inpatient facility that will also house a Day Program allowing young people to transition appropriately to and from treatment services. This means there were always be more than 12 young people utilising the centre. It’s hoped that the education program onsite will operate as the Barrett Adolescent Centre School did in providing for not only those young people in active treatment at the centre but for those who have moved from Jacaranda Place to treatment in the community but for whom continuity of education will ensure stability and ongoing progress. (Note that the Barrett School continues to be a vital service since its relocation to Tennyson where it now serves as a Support School for young people with severe mental health issues who don’t require long-stay inpatient care.)

BrisbaneTimesjacarandaplace2The new centre will be the base for approximately 45 medical, nursing and allied health professionals and 10 specialist educators and the Health Department is aware that those with lived experience are keen for the staff at the centre to be a valuable resource for those throughout the state dealing with the significant challenges that severe mental illness can impose on young people and their families throughout Queensland. With the lack of research worldwide into the severe and complex cohort of young people, Jacaranda Place could help not only those with direct contact with the centre but many more if the Health Department’s dedicated approach to those affected by severe youth mental health continues past the centre’s opening. Thanks to the proactive approach to co-design and collaboration taken by Queensland Health – spearheaded by Director General John Wakefield, there remains great potential for enduring benefits to take place in and beyond this new contemporary facility.

As the Premier made today’s announcement, she emphasised the importance of the new centre in the context of the tragic closure of its predecessor under Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and Premier Campbell Newman.

What happened after the Barrett Centre closed was an absolute tragedy which should never have happened,” the Premier said.

“I remember meeting with the families involved and being deeply moved by their stories, that’s why I made a commitment that we would build a new centre. I thank them for their time, their selflessness and their bravery in discussing what must have been times of terrible trial and suffering for them and their loved ones. Their input has been valuable, and will no doubt prove life-saving for future patients. I’m so proud to stand here today at the new Jacaranda Place which will ensure young people in need of mental health services get the very best possible care.”

Where the new name is concerned, Frank Tracey, Chief Executive of Children’s Health Queensland, the Hospital and Health Service with responsibility for Jacaranda Place said today:

“The name reflects the strength and resilience of the Jacaranda Tree, which represents wisdom, rebirth and good luck. It is a hardy tree that grows in difficult conditions and once a year, its true beauty is shown in full colour. The name also reflects the centre’s location and the views overlooking Jacaranda trees along Farnell Street. … [It is] a distinct and purposeful name for the centre – one that is both welcoming and representative of the stories of hope, dignity and recovery we want the centre to be known for.”

The press release announcing the naming of Jacaranda Place can be read in full here

and

7 News Gold Coast has posted Facebook video of an emotional press conference given by the Premier about Jacaranda Place opening here.

Also …

Updates of the progress of the building and construction of Jacaranda Place (including photos and video) can be found at Queensland Health’s Youth Mental Health site here.

Jacaranda Place will officially open in April so patient admission will not begin until that time.


severeyouthmentalhealth.org will keep you posted regarding the centre’s operation.

NAMING the Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre

Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ) is working with young people, families, carers and Queensland Health staff across Queensland to name the new Adolescent Extended Treatment Centre (for young people with severe and complex mental health issues).

The aim is to identify a name that represents what the centre is intended to achieve in terms of health outcomes for young people – one of hope, dignity and recovery

So CHQ are seeking the help of eight young leaders across different consumer communities to help make sure the process is inclusive and reflects the diversity of young people across Queensland.

So, if you are aged 13-24 and represent one of more of the following characteristics:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander;
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • LBTQI+
  • Have accessibility or disability requirements; or
  • Have lived experience of mental health services

and you’re available to attend meetings on

●     16 October 2019 (90 mins)
●     1 November 2019 (60 mins)
●     18 November 2019 (45 mins)

please submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) BY 13 OCTOBER and you could help provide the name that represents a better future for generations of young Queenslanders.

Those selected will be paid $187 per meeting and public transport, parking fees and private motor vehicle use will be reimbursed.

Click here to download more information and

Click here for the EOI form.

*

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!


 

NEWS: Model of Service for new Centre; Carers Forum

MODEL OF SERVICE (MOS) FOR NEW ADOLESCENT EXTENDED TREATMENT CENTRE (AETC)

Independent Review of MOS

With Dr Paul Robertson engaged as an external consultant in March to provide independent clinical and expert advice on putting the theoretical Model of Service into operation terms, Queensland Health have now made Dr Robertson’s report available online:
– in summary (click linked text to access) and
– in full (click linked text to access) 
Other info and links can be found under the NEWS section of the YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH PAGES of the Queensland Health website.

VISUAL MOS

The visual Model of Service can also be viewed via the same page of the QH site or you can go directly to the 2 page document by clicking on the image below:


CARERS FORUM (October)

ARAFMI – originally started as an association for carers of those with mental health issues whose aim is now to “enhance the wellbeing of people with mental illness, their families, carers and volunteers” – is holding their Becoming Visible Carers Forum 2019 on 15th October (during National Carers Week) at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

As an opportunity for carers of someone with a mental illness to connect with others, hear from industry guest speakers and obtain the latest information about the person they care for this could be an invaluable day for many.

The forum is FREE to attend but spaces are limited so to find out more and/or REGISTER, click on the ARAFMI logo below.


 

 

YOUR involvement in POSITIVE CHANGE

Mental Health issues – especially those that are severe and complex which have a serious impact on those around a young person directly facing the challenges – put those with lived experience in an almost impossible position …

YOU are the ones who know best about the most important aspects of service provision (whether the right services are available to achieve the progress that’s desperately needed)

BUT

YOU are dealing with mental health issues – and that takes time, can limit your ability to do things (to the point of everything feeling totally overwhelming) and can mean that you have had enough difficult experiences with service providers that the idea of doing anything beyond just surviving just can’t be on your radar

WE KNOW THAT YOUR SITUATION CAN MEAN YOU CAN’T ALWAYS BE INVOLVED IN THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE 

Even those with the biggest hearts and the greatest determination will find themselves needing to focus solely on getting through the next minute and then the next and then the next … So doing anything that isn’t part of that ‘just holding on‘ isn’t possible.

BUT

  1. If you can pass on opportunities to others (e.g. using social media can mean just a few clicks) you’ve done something that will help; and
  2.  If you feel you could spend a few minutes online, there are often ways to do that that don’t mean an ongoing commitment (see below).

Of course when you’re able to get a little more involved and still take care of your health, there are groups in your community and projects underway where you can participate more regularly and in different ways. So you can see what you might be able to do when you

There are many ways that you and those you know can be heard so that you, those close to you and people you don’t even know will get better help.
Better healthcare.
Better education.
Better support to help you towards a life where you can do more. And feel better.

 

RIGHT NOW YOU CAN HAVE YOUR SAY VIA THE …

National Mental Health Commission CONNECTIONS SURVEY

The National Mental Health Commission aims to “consult and engage with all Australians on the 2030 Vision for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention“.  So their Connections project is to be a nation-wide conversation about the future of mental health and suicide prevention in Australia. The Commission will be visiting 23 communities across Australia to hold Town Hall meetings to which anyone with lived experience of mental health is invited to attend. If you can’t be at the Town Hall meetings you can share your stories and experiences in relation to mental health, suicide prevention and wellbeing ONLINE by clicking on the following link.

CONNECTIONS PROJECT ONLINE SURVEY

The survey closes on the 8th of September 2019

And you find out more about the Connections Project overall by clicking on the image below..
If you can share this with your network of friends, family and colleagues so that the right information gets to the people who can make the changes, that would be great. But if now is a time you need to focus on you, know there will be ways for you to have you say when you’re able.

Thanks for caring.
About others and for yourself.

Those are two best things that you can do.

*

Understanding is the positive way forward

This isn’t a typical post for severeyouthmentalhealth.org – not even for one of our BLOG posts. But so many important topics overflowed from these recent statements in relation to youth mental health issues that we just had to comment. The real problem was knowing where to start! But here we go …

Yesterday, Andrew Bolt, an Australian media commentator, wrote a column in the Herald Sun newspaper the subject of which was Greta Thunberg, a Swedish activist whose personal protest on climate change inaction grew into a worldwide phenomenon that she continues to lead. *

Click to enlarge in new window

As you’ll see by the areas highlighted by us above, he chose to make the mental health issues that Greta deals with the thrust of his story. He chose to refer to her as “deeply disturbed“, “strange” and “fragile“. So not only did Andrew Bolt deny the science of climate change about which Greta has proven to be so well-informed but he showed himself to be as ignorant as too many sadly are in relation to complex youth mental health issues.

There are many ways to respond.

 

This is how Greta Thunberg did it:

 

Our inclination is to list some key facts in order to directly address those affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues who may have read Mr Bolt’s column:

1. We are not our health issues. Our identity comes from many things with some of it becoming evident in the ways we choose to express our values. But who we truly are is not delineated by our liver malfunction, by our malignant cells or by our mental health issues.

2. We cannot be defined by our chronological age. We can be shaped by our physical and cognitive development (which are result of our unique genetic make-up and experiences within the environment/s in which we have lived), by our interests and principles and abilities and … more. Our chronological age can be linked to a number of those things but the fact alone that we 16, 60 or 6 gives little indication of who a person is.

So – ‘The World’ will never see us as we truly and perfectly are – each human being is so many things making up a multi-faceted individual that even those close to us will never know us absolutely. 100%. And that’s OK. But we show aspects of ourselves through the words we choose to share (and who we choose share them with) and the actions that we take.

3. Our words and actions have implications for others. We can think only of ourselves and what suits our personal agenda or we can consider other people and how what we say and do will impact them.

4. The truth can hurt but there is no excuse for using misinformation to hurt.

5. We can choose to be negative or we can choose to be positive.

So – we can find ways to make things bad, we can criticise … we can create a persona that engenders fear from statements that aren’t true because, sadly, that can garner enough interest from a public so desperate to ensure they are prepared for the worst that advertisers will pay for your house and your boss’s mansion and his boss’s castle.
OR we can think about what we can do that could be useful, helpful, kind. To others and to ourselves. We can use positive words – encourage ourselves, compliment others, share inspiring/funny/exciting things, discuss solutions to a problem. We can take positive actions – do a chore that isn’t ours to do, make someone laugh, find a productive way to contribute to important issues or causes that matter to us, … and on a day we feel we can’t do anything at all, to just try and do one thing is something to be proud of.

Greta Thunberg is many things. 
Continuing to manage a number of health issues is not her identity but it shows that, with the right treatment and support, individuals can apply their specific skills and passions to learning and understanding, sharing knowledge, inspiring and energising others, trying to improve some part of living in the world.

So here’s our improvement on the headline for an article about what Greta Thunberg is doing:

To share this image on social media, right click (ctrl+click on Mac) to choose to Save As… , Copy etc.

 

You can be inspired.

But don’t forget that YOU CAN ALSO BE INSPIRING.

To try to achieve something positive when you have your own challenges is inspirational. It is brave. And strong. Whatever you are trying and whatever the outcome.

And to those who are yet to have a good understanding of the reality of severe and complex mental health issues, all of the above also applies.
It applies to us all.

(Especially me.)

 


Click to go to video

* If you want to find out more about Greta Thunberg’s work (beyond clicking on  the links in the 2nd para above), you can go to the following news reports:

Greta Thunberg: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

School Strike for Climate: Meet 15-Year-Old Activist Greta Thunberg, Who Inspired a Global Movement

16-Year-Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

and/or view her Tedx Talk by clicking on the image (above right)

A good source of summary information as well as questions and discussion points to engage students and others with news on global events is the edition relating to Greta of The New York Times’ “Learning with …” series.


 

Other severeyouthmentalhealth.org BLOG POSTS can be found here
with NEWS POSTS on the homepage and
via the ‘Previous News’ menu on any page with a sidebar at the right