This morning I attended the Youth Mental Health Workshop initiated and organised by the state government Mental Health Commission. I was there as a Youth Reference Group representative from the local branch of the Youth Mental Health Foundation of Australia. Others in attendance included those from other government departments and NGOs; the Drug & Alcohol office, Arafmi, Department for Child Protection, The Freedom Centre, the Inspire Foundation, a rep from a public hospital psych unit, headspace, housing, police, amongst many others I didn’t get a chance to meet. There were about seventy of us in the room. What was disappointing though was the lack of young people they did consult in trying to grasp what needs to be done to improve the mental health of young people. Of the seventy, only three of us came from the consumer/young person point of view, the rest were there as an employee of the organisation they were representing.
That being said, a lot of insightful discussion was held. We were put into tables of about eight and posed with questions of what an ideal youth mental health system would look like, what’s working that could be built upon and what are the key policy directions for youth mental health. Being an issue that I’m passionate about, have experience of as well as having heard other people’s experiences, it was great to be able to put forward my ideas and opinions. Integration between the public, private and NGO sectors would be one that needs to be done better. The cut-off between child and adult services were another- it is not good service delivery when an 18 year old is shoved off to adult services from CAMHS as soon as they hit that age and be placed in an adult mental health ward along with middle aged patients who may be quite acutely unwell. The internet is something that works well- many young people will turn to the internet as their first point of contact.
At the end of it I got to speak with and have a photo with Professor Pat McGorry! For those not in Australia, he is the psychiatrist who won Australia of the Year in 2010 and is right up there when it comes to mental health experts.
Why yes, I do have a black oval in place of a head…
Later in the day when I looked at the calendar, I realised this marks exactly a month since I was discharged from The H Clinic. Seems kinda fitting that today I’m doing what I love, contributing to improve youth mental health and services available. It serves as a reminder of why I don’t want to be hospital- I have things to do, I have a life to live on the outside.