New Video Series Shines a Light on Experiences with Public Mental Health Services in NSW
BEING – Mental Health Consumers recently asked people to share their experiences of
accessing public mental health services in NSW. Our aim was to give a voice back to the
people who have felt harmed at their most vulnerable and look at how we can reclaim the
rights of people who are accessing mental health systems and services in NSW.
This powerful video series has allowed us to encourage crucial conversations on mental
health services right now and give people a space to share their stories, as well as their ideas
for improving these services for others.
Based on the lived experiences of the people in the series we were able to get a sense of
some of the underlying challenges in mental health services right now including:
Many experienced having their basic rights violated in some way as well as being treated with
a lack of respect and dignity. Some felt being stripped of things like their mobile phones when
they entered mental health facilities removed that connection and comfort leading them to feel
isolated and ignored.
It seems doctors were also quick to medicate as a means of de-escalation and simply telling
people how to think or feel which stripped them of their voice as well as their rights.
Reclaiming Rights and Being Seen
While it’s been incredibly poignant to hear some of the experiences our participants have
been through, it’s also allowed us to start a conversation on how to reclaim their rights and
improve services for others using their experiences.
For example, participant Kylie suggests a mental health triage as part of hospital intake as
well as non–clinical spaces for people presenting with mental health issues (with clinical staff
still on hand). This allows the space for people to be treated as human beings and individuals
while still getting the medical care they need.
Chelsea suggests mental health is treated in the same way as physical health with better
access to psychologists and psychiatrists on Medicare without a gap or limitations. As she
says, “you can see a GP unlimited times to make sure our physical needs are treated, why
isn’t our mental health treated in the same way?”.
Nic simply says access to mental health services in rural areas are just not there and that
needs to change.
We hope this video series is just the start of tackling the hard conversations that ultimately
improve the mental health services in NSW. A huge thank you to all who were brave enough
to participate in the video series and open to sharing their experiences with us.