Tandem believes that the Royal Commission needs to hear the lived experience voices of consumers and family and friends (carers). The real stories of those of you out in the community carry more power and authenticity than any study.
If you would like to contribute your story so Tandem can use it in our advocacy work you can do so below. See Helen's or Vanessa's story for an example of how Tandem would like to work with you to bring your story to the Commission.
Please feel free to contact us directly on 1800 314 325. We look forward to assisting you to prepare your own submissions about both your experience with the Victorian mental health system and what you believe support provided by the system would include.
Helen’s story | “After my son’s initial treatment, he was let go by the mental health system and I was left completely alone, without even a recommendation to a psychiatrist. As a carer, you first bear 100 per cent of the responsibility for looking after your relative, then you are shut out of the process once they in the system. Carers need to be thought of as an important part of treatment and should be front and centre of the mental health treatment process.” Read more
Vanessa's story | "Your grief never goes away, it just continues to rise. For carers and families of people with mental illness the experience of loss and feelings of pain are profound and ongoing, as one observes their loved one struggling to live with a mental illness. When your loved one has a mental illness, they lose the simple enjoyment of life, a sense of fulfillment, a meaningful life, basic development milestones, reaching their full potential, and a loss of control of their own lives." Read more
Rose's story | "The amount of times I have asked for help and been rejected would leave anyone in despair. I am totally and utterly at the end of my tether so at 79 my fervent hope is that someone is ultimately going to listen to me, and others like me. Writing it down doesn’t do it justice." Read more
Wendy’s story | “Patients have to be assessed as dangerous to the community or suicidal before they are admitted to hospital. On many occasions, my daughter has been told that she will not receive treatment until she stops her suicidal behaviour. This is putting the cart before the horse. She won’t be treated until she gets better seems to be what they are saying!” Read more
Charlotte's story | "Death is not an acceptable outcome for those suffering acute mental illness. And yet, with the current system, death is an ever-present fear for these patients and their carers." Read more
Jim's story | "I find it outrageous that one person has the power to force another to have medication without them having to take responsibility for the outcome. A document with a checklist should be used by the mental health service that has a common sense approach and starts with a discussion between family/carers, the psychiatrist and a psychologist." Read more
Susan’s story | “As my son’s carer I am almost never consulted by psychologists, psychiatrists and support providers. Most of the time my opinion is ignored. His diagnosis changes depending on who is treating him. My son lives with me, so I have more contact and knowledge of his behaviour and condition than anybody else. I should be consulted more as his illness is quite complex.” Read more
Katherine’s story | “How can someone who has profound mental health issues make safe decisions about taking their medications or whether they need to be hospitalised? It is often the carers who have a much clearer idea of what the patient’s condition is and what the patient actually needs in terms of treatment. I can accept that we respect a patients’ human rights but does this mean that we let that person self-destruct?” Read more
Jessica’s story | "Our son fought for years trying to be normal, became so depressed he tried to hang himself, developed psychosis, longed for friend and relationships, but kept on being rejected because he was different. We have spent years in and out of specialist rooms, counselling rooms, psychiatrist, psychologist..." Read more
Julia's story | "I have been “politely” abused by the Mental Health Triage, including sending me to a Psychologist as I was making too many phone calls asking them to help my son. They informed me that he is old enough and he can come and ask for help." Read more
Bronwyn's story | "Clive had his first episode when he was 17. I know now that 17 is an entirely ordinary age for someone to develop schizo-affective disorder but at the time it struck us completely out of the blue. We both quickly lost a lot of friends and support. The stigma around the illness filled the vacuum that the information we have now should have filled and it was devastating." Read more
Caroline’s story | "Our family already had a substantial history with the mental health system so we weren’t expecting anything apart from the familiar cold shoulder when our son was admitted to another inpatient unit. What we experienced though turned out to be life-changing." Read more
Peter's story | "I work in the mental health community-managed services. We deal with people here in Barwon who need support to maintain a roof over their heads. In the past, many people who we saw as vulnerable to homelessness were utilising services funded via the MHCSS and working closely with supporters and other advocates. As these services disappear – keeping in mind that the NDIS isn’t replacing these with like for like services – these relationships break down and these people then come to us for crisis accommodation and homelessness support." Read more
Esther's story | "It’s disgraceful. It’s disgraceful that we’ve let this go on for so long. We must do more. Safety is a basic human right and if we can’t guarantee that in state care than we are failing as a society to meet our most basic obligations to one another." Read more
Malcolm's submission to the Royal Commission: Out of the Fog
Malcolm Berry is a professional artist He has lived experience of mental health problems. Currently Malcolm also works as an advocate, and in care and maintenance work for a number of providers of mental health services. He is also a member of VMIAC and assists with research into mental health. The artwork Out of the Fog that Malcolm has presented to Tandem for submission to the Royal Commission symbolises the incredible dedication of carers where the Indian henna hand symbolises protection and love, while a calming face comes out of the fog for those with lived experience with mental health issues. See Malcolm's submission here.