S61: Is the ‘care’ missing from treatment? Reflections, stories and lived experiences in Victoria

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By September 12, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Jennifer Black, Keir Saltmarsh, Emma Bohmer

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Is the 'care' missing from treatment? Reflections, stories and lived experiences in Victoria

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Jennifer Black is the Deputy Mental Health Complaints Commissioner for Victoria. Originally trained as an Occupational Therapist she has held many clinical mental health leadership roles her and in the UK. Most recently she was the Operational Director for Barwon Health.

Emma has been active in the mental health recovery space for over 10 years and uses her own personal experience of mental ill-health to help others. Emma has sought help over decades, and has spent a total of nine months as an inpatient in mental health hospitals during this time. From these experiences, Emma has in-depth understanding of the isolation, psychic pain, despair and internalised shame that comes with struggling to find a pathway from mental illness to recovery. At the same time, Emma strongly believes in the power of hope and human rights and is passionate about recovery. Emma is heavily involved in systems advocacy and promoting the consumer perspective in mental health service delivery. Emma is currently the Senior Adviser Lived Experience and Education for the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner, on secondment from her role as Consumer Consultant at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. She has extensive involvement in lived experience advisory groups and committees and has been a Project Lead for St Vincent's LGBTIQA+ inclusivity in mental health project. She is also a member of the Victorian Mental Health Interprofessional Leadership Network. Emma is an experienced public speaker, and has shared her story and presented to organisations including Public Transport Victoria, Wilson Security Asset Management and Launch Housing, as well as medical students in Melbourne, health professionals and consumers. She advocates for equity in health care and the right for everyone to have recovery and a good life.

This presentation will draw on five years of data from the Victorian Mental Health Complaints Commissioner into people’s individual experiences of care and treatment. The Mental Health Act 2014 (the Act) outlines a set of principles including one that states; persons receiving mental health services should have their rights, dignity and autonomy respected and promoted. Our office deals with complaints where individuals describe a lack of compassion in the context of treatment and this goes to the heart of whether people are treated with dignity and respect. The presentation will provide some case studies of individual experiences and the impact this has had on them and their families. The presentation will explore how some services have been open to hearing these experiences to create a genuine understanding of cultural and systemic change that is needed within their service. In addition, the presentation will include some personal reflections of the Deputy Commissioner who has moved from a position of a Clinical Service Director into this statutory oversight role.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: To provide participants with 5 years of thematic data from the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner in Victoria about people’s experiences of the ‘care’ that is delivered within Mental Health Service and Communities.
Learning Objective 2: To provide insight into how service leaders can use stories and experiences to understand what needs to change within their own mental health service and community.

Campling, P. (2015). Reforming the culture of healthcare: the case for intelligent kindness. BJPsych Bull, Feb 39(1), 1-5.

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