Authors: Douglas Holmes, Paula Hanlon, Vivienne Miller, Mark Loughhead, Ellie Hodges, Heather McIntyre, Julie Rowse
Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference
Subject: lived experience, leadership
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: LEAD PRESENTATION: Honouring our History and Forging our Future: Consumer involvement in mental health
Douglas Holmes, Paula Hanlon, Vivienne Miller
It is easy to forget that we have made significant changes in mental health in Australia over many years. In the early years consumer presentations at TheMHS were focussed on people’s individual recovery experiences. It was an important platform for people to begin to use their voice, be heard, feel part of something greater; an opportunity to make a real difference, participate in reform. These presentations reflected and led the way to policy and service reforms in mental health. Along with many positive changes for consumers there were also negatives. The words: “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”, ring in our ears. What can we learn from history – especially from the past few decades? In this paper we focus on the participation and inclusion of consumers in the development, decision-making, implementation and evaluation of mental health services in Australia. We reflect on some of the highlights of the past few decades including the role that TheMHS has had in enabling the growth of the mental health consumer movement. We will reflect on the integration of consumers at all levels of decision and policy making in mental health systems – national, state, local and service levels.
PANEL PRESENTATION: Pathways for strengthening lived experience leadership for transformative systems change
Mark Loughhead, Ellie Hodges, Heather McIntyre
Activating Lived Experience Leadership was a South Australian participatory action research project which aimed to improve the ways lived experience is recognised, valued and integrated across mental health systems. The project ran over 2019-2021, working with 100+ participants to generate significant knowledge and community action. Our paper discusses the project’s processes of building a collective partnership amongst lived experience and sector leaders, to engage with a justice orientated purpose of lived experience action and to prompt sector level collaboration. This involved using focus groups, interviews and surveys to discover the purpose, achievements and potential of lived experience leadership, and then bringing together key partners at the policy level to make commitments for change. This work was about creating shared purpose, vision and consensus towards growing and supporting lived experience leaders and improving systems level accountability for embedding person centered care, peer practice and authentic recovery (1, 2).
Our learning on using a systems perspective will be shared; on how we shift mindsets, culture, relationships and resource flows across systems. We see this as essential for creating the opportunities and spaces where lived experience and sector leaders can work together in genuine ways for transforming mental health practice, experience and outcomes.
PANEL PRESENTATION: More than a system - we need mental health embedded in leadership
We talk about needing an accessible and integrated mental health system but meeting the mental health needs of our community must start with our leaders. It is after all our leaders who set policy direction. It is our leaders who determine service criteria and access. It is our leaders who can build strategic connections and integrate systems to meet peoples needs.
Our leaders are also human and when stress impacts their mental health, their ability to generate novel solutions to challenging and complex difficulties is reduced. When mental health and wellbeing is of personal value to us, we are more likely to invest in it. If our leaders understand the importance of mental health for everybody, including themselves, then we can truly begin to make a difference.
This paper will articulate not only why but how and what leaders can do to understand the impact their own mental health can have on their job performance and overall life. When leaders take steps to look after their own mental health and wellbeing, they also set the tone for others to do the same. Mentally fit leaders can navigate complexity to make a difference.