1. What does Being do?

Being works on understanding and advocating on issues that impact people with a lived experience of mental illness. Our work includes:

  • Systemic policy advocacy and consultation, such as making submissions to parliament.
  • Providing training courses and workshops, such as a 3-day consumer systemic advocacy-training course.
  • Raising awareness and promotion through online sources and events, such as our annual Recovery Forum.
  • Research on issues relevant to people with a lived experience of mental illness, such as our ‘There’s no place like home project’ to explore the connection between home and wellbeing.
  • Supporting the growth and wellbeing of the peer workforce in NSW, such as the Consumer Workers Project which is about working with and supporting NSW Mental Health Consumer Workers and;
  • Continuing to grow as an organisation and Collective Purpose.

Beings 2015-2018 Strategic Plan can be viewed here.

  1. What does Being mean when we use the term consumer?

Consumer is a short-hand term to mean a person who has or has had an experience of mental ill health. Wherever possible Being uses the term people with a lived experience of mental illness or just ‘people’ and strongly encourage other organisations and policy writers to also use this terminology.The consumer movement started in the 60’s and 70’s as a reaction to the patient’s poor experiences of health care. Patients used the language of ‘consumer’ to highlight that they are paying for health services, and so the services should involve them in decision-making, provide good service and be accountable.

Not everyone agrees or identifies with the term consumer. How someone identifies themselves is an individual choice. For example, some people identify as a survivor, a person with a lived experience of mental ill-health, a sufferer. Some people may not consider their experience of mental health issues as a part of their identity at all.

  1. Do people at Being have a lived experience of mental illness?

Being has made the following commitments:

  • At least 75% of Being staff members have a lived experience of mental illness.
  • At least 75% of our Board, which oversees the organisation, must have a lived experience of mental illness.

All of Being’s advertisements and position descriptions for staff recruitment encourage people with a lived experience of mental illness to apply.

  1. What can Being help me with?

Being can help you engage in systemic advocacy to change things for you and others. There are a number of different ways to engage in systemic advocacy. Being can help you to connect with other consumers or groups who have similar concerns or ideas, provide information about systemic advocacy training and Being works with people with a lived experience of mental illness to speak at events and training sessions.

I want to complain about a service – can Being help me?

Whilst Being does not provide individual advocacy, your issue might not be an isolated incident and letting us know about it can help inform Beings policy work and highlight an issue. Although we do not offer direct services, we will try our best to point you in the right direction.

Each organisation normally has their own complaint process. Depending on the service, you can consider contacting primary organisations who handle complaints. For example the NSW Ombudsman and NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.

Check out our Get Support page for a list of support services and resources.

  1. What is systemic advocacy?

Systemic advocacy, also called systems advocacy, means working to change the ‘system’, which includes law, policies and service. People often think about advocacy as lobbying the government but it’s much more than that. For example, Being collaborates with services to improve the way they engage with consumers. Systemic advocacy can also involve making things happen outside of government. For example, Being have worked with other organisations to develop videos to raise mental health awareness and help-seeking in Arabic-speaking communities.Systemic advocacy addresses broader issues that people do experience and are likely to experience across NSW. It’s an important way of achieving justice for people who have experience of disadvantage.

Other types of advocacy include self-advocacy and individual advocacy. Self-advocacy is when a person speaks up on their own behalf and in their own interests. Self-advocacy arose as a direct challenge to the practice of individual advocacy, which gives the power of advocacy to someone other than the person who the advocacy is for.

  1. How does Being work with people with a lived experience of mental illness?

Working with people who have a lived experience of mental illness is a central part to the work Being does. The main ways Beings works with people who have a lived experience of mental illness include:

  • Holding online or face-to-face consultations to hear people’s views,
  • Supporting people with a lived experience to participate in committees and public speaking opportunities and;
  • Responding to people who contact us through the phone, telephone or in person.
  1. How can I get involved with Being’s work?

There are many ways you can get involved with Being’s work, even if you don’t have a lived experience of mental illness.

  • Subscribe to Being’s monthly e-newsletter for updates and opportunities related to our work. <subscribe here – insert link>
  • Attend our events. These include forums, training and consultations. Our consultations are often targeted at people with a lived experience because we want our advocacy to be informed by this experience. For more information about our events and consultations <click here – insert link>
  • Contact us at policy@being.org.au or (02) 9332 0200 about any systemic issues that you would like us to work on. We work on issues affecting people with a lived experience of mental illness. It’s most helpful for us to hear directly from the person who is experiencing the issue, but we understand that this is sometimes not possible.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates and information on our social media that we might not include in our e-newsletter.
  • Volunteer with Being or other organisations in our Collective Purpose hub office – http://collectivepurpose.org.au/volunteer-with-us/
  • Become a member of Being. Members need to live in NSW and have a lived experience of mental illness. http://being.org.au/getinvolved/become-a-member/
  1. What does Being do with the consumer stories, experience and expertise they collect?

Your stories, experiences and expertise inform Being’s policy work. We collect and record people’s experiences and viewpoints to inform our policy work. For privacy reasons, we make sure this information is de-identified when we discuss it in any of our publications that are accessible by people outside of Being.

We aim to respond to people’s experiences and views in a fair way. Being does not ignore any feedback whether it is from multiple people or one person. With people’s permission, we collect demographics information, such as age and cultural background, to ensure we are advocating for a diverse range of consumers and issues.

  1. Can Being help carers or family members of people with mental illness?

We work on issues that affect people with a lived experience of mental illness. Our work is informed by the lived experience of people with mental illness. Much of the work that Being does and the information Being provides would also be relevant and helpful to carers and family members. Family members and carers may also wish to subscribe to or join organisations that advocate specifically for family members and carers, such as Mental Health Carers and Carers NSW. Mental Health Carers NSW is one of our partner organisations and we work in the same office.