Welcome to Our Consumer Place
So, you've got a 'Mental Illness'? ... What now?
Speaking Our Minds: A guide to how we use our stories
Deep Insight: Leaders in the international mental health consumer/survivor movement share their thinking
Psychobabble: the Little Red Book of Psychiatric Jargon
Our Consumer Place is a resource centre run entirely by people diagnosed with "mental illness" (we choose to call ourselves "consumers"). We provide information, training, support and advice to consumer-developed groups and projects. We also support what we call "consumer perspective" recognising that the lived experience of "mental illness" provides a crucial source of insight that is of value and must be respected. We believe that we are part of an important cultural shift, towards valuing and respecting the lived experience of "mental illness."
Those of us diagnosed with "mental illness" have a unique perspective to offer. Our lived experiences are rich and varied: some of us experience madness, psyche-ache, emotional distress, hearing voices, mental breakdown or "mental illness" and we don't all make meaning from our experiences in the same way.
Many of us have experienced prejudice, exclusion and trauma. Many have used or survived mental health services, others haven't. Many of us have hidden our experiences, some of us share our experiences in various ways.
We all share the ability to reflect on our lives, our communities and the 'mental health system' from the perspective of having been through these experiences. Our Consumer Place is a resource for our voices to come together and become stronger.
We are based in West Melbourne (Victoria, Australia). We are funded by the Department of Health (Government of Victoria) and auspiced by Our Community. We are unique in Australia, but there are many similar services in Europe and the United States.
(Key terms: "consumer", "Consumer Developed Initiatives" (CDIs), "consumer perspective", "mental illness")
News in the consumer world
Opening Doors: a fantastic new training resource on the impact of seclusion
Opening Doors is a training resource developed by Awareness, a New Zealand network of consumers to help people working in the mental health sector understand the impact of seclusion on all those involved. The intention is to encourage the use of alternatives, so that mental health inpatient seclusion - leaving a distressed or agitated person locked in a bare room, alone - can become a thing of the past. To view this marvellous resource, click here.
***Must-see consumer creations***
Paws For Purrfect Patient Therapy (PRPPT) a consumer run, not-for-profit organisation, providing community based pet foster care services for people with mental illness. The aim is to allow patients to voluntarily surrender their pets during crisis periods (such as hospital stays). It's just starting up and could use your support (including pet supplies, volunteers interested in becoming foster pet carers, board and committee members and more). PFPPT has been nominated for a competition and could win a $5,000 grant from Sun Super!!! Do you think PFPPT is a good idea and want to get involved and help mental health consumers and their pets? Want to do more to help?? Voting is really easy! Just click here. Or check PFPPT out here: www.pawsforpurrfectpatienttherapy.com. (Source: Naomi Snell, founder of PRPPT).
Outrage to determination: Julie Dempsey's pictorial history of women's lack of safety in psychiatric wards and the Victorian Women and Mental Health Network's campaign to increase women's safety. Click here for the full booklet (5.49MB), or read about it here (it was profiled in Our Consumer Place's newsletter in December 2011, pages 3-5).
What causes mental illness? A new website initiated by Bill Moon.
Bill says: "How many times have we said 'I wish people knew more about the way things really are?' ... Well, the time for a discussion of 'mental illness' may be here and, if we work together, that public
discussion could be informed by the best evidence and practice. Have a look at the site, and look at what is there, but also imagine what we could make of it together, If you find it worthy please recommend it and if you don't find it worthy - come and help improve it!" Check it out here: http://whatcausesmentalillness.com
***Petitions and campaigns***
Smoking Mad: "Australian hospitals are FORCING involuntary mental health patients to quit smoking against their will.
Total smoking bans increase distress for people already in severe crisis, damage recovery & create dangerous risks. This campaign aims to repeal these bans, re-establish smoking areas in suitable outdoor hospital areas, and establish sensible, voluntary quit programs that actually work." Click here to read Smoking Mad's public statement, and here to find out how you can join the national campaign. For the Smoking Mad blog, click here or go to: www.smokingmad.blogspot.com (Source: Indigo Daya)
See also the petition against compulsory cessation of smoking for patients confined involuntarily in psychiatric wards and services in Victoria Have you seen the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council's (VMIAC) online 'smoking ban' petition? Read more about it here: www.petitiononline.com/advocacy/petition.html Source: Bill Moon, VMIAC
***Research and information***
'A safe admission for women'
The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) is currently researching the experiences of female consumers during their inpatient stays in psychiatric facilities across Victoria. Participation in their confidential online survey would be greatly appreciated. Please visit this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FW2XP8R. If you wish to discuss the survey or the project, please phone Terri McNeilage: Systemic Advocate at VMIAC on (03) 9380 3900.
Northern CCU Peer Support Research and Development Project: "Putting the community into Community Care Unit"
Prepared by Allan Pinches, Consumer consultant in mental health, was the Principal Researcher for this 16-month project, which
was funded by a Department of Health Victoria Mental Health and Drugs Research Fellowship Grant. The main purpose of the project was to research and develop ways to build a possible Peer Support program and culture into the Northern Community Care Unit (CCU), a 20-resident adult psychiatric rehab service in Preston. Click here for a copy of the report.
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