Over 130 people with lived experience of mental illness in Lismore, Sydney and the Central Coast have shared their first-hand experiences and ideas on how consumers and carers can take a stronger role in influencing change and providing leadership in mental health.
The Consumer Lived Experience Steering Group, established by the Commission earlier this year, arranged events in the three locations as part of a project exploring participation, leadership and influence of mental health consumers in NSW. Guided group discussions explored how consumers can take a stronger role in shaping all aspects of mental wellbeing.
Megan Moore, a youth facilitator for the Lismore and Sydney events, was delighted to be both involved and recognised for her work in mental health.
"When I found out that they had one coming up in Sydney, I expressed interest in going. I was extremely lucky, as they had some funding to support people from rural areas to attend, and they also needed a facilitator to lead the youth focus group table! I had never facilitated a community discussion before, and I hadn't even travelled since I was a child, so I was very nervous!
“Everyone from the Commission was so supportive, and walked me through everything I needed to do. It was the first time I had been recognised for the work I do in mental health, as until then I had only done volunteer work. It was a very empowering experience and for the first time I felt that I could actually have a meaningful career. I met amazing people, and now feel much more confident in myself and the work that I do. "
Information from these consultations will be used to guide the development of a framework for consumer participation, influence and leadership. The framework is expected to also reflect the views of carers in relation to participation, influence and leadership of carers in mental health in NSW. At this stage of carer consultation the Commission is encouraging carers to contribute to a survey about your experiences to inform the framework.
Consumers and carers living in NSW who would like to contribute their thoughts on this topic are encouraged to participate in an anonymous survey here. Submissions close on 31 July 2016.