OUR CONSUMER PLACE (OCP) RESOURCES
Our Consumer Place produces many resources, including booklets, presentations, cartoons, reports and submissions. These resources are all brought together in this section of our website.
We also produce resources specifically for Consumer Developed Initiatives (consumer groups, projects, etc), including tips for getting money - there's a separate section of this website for these resources "For Consumer Groups" (see the second orange flag at the top, or click here).
- Help Sheets
- Recent presentations/writing by OCP staff
- Merinda Epstein's cartoons
- Interviews with international consumer/survivor leaders
- A series of golden consumer-perspective research
- OCP Publications:
- A consumer's guide to mental illness interventions: a historical view
- Pluck, acceptance, defiance and fortitude: telling mental illness sotires to change the world
- Doing it together: A collection of approcahes, experiences and purposes of and in Groups, Committees, Organisations, Networks and Movements
- Mad Workplaces: A commonsense guide for people with 'mental illness' on how to navigate the workplace
- Mad Workplaces: A commonsense guide for workplaces about working alongside people with 'mental illness'
- The Company We Keep: A user's guide to mental health clinicians
- The MadQuarry Dictionary 2013: A consumer's guide to the language of mental health
- The Consumer Movement in Australia: A Memoir by Merinda Epstein
- Mad Meetings
- Psychobabble: the Little Red Book of Psychiatric Jargon
- Deep Insight: Leaders in the International Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Movement share their thinking
- Speaking Our Minds: A guide to how we use our stories
- So, you've got a 'Mental Illness'? ... What now?
- Submission to the Exposure Draft Mental Health Bill
- Old Newsletters
Recent presentations/writings by OCP staff
By popular demand, we have decided to make some recent public presentations and writings by OCP staff available here.
- Falling Out of Your Social Class - Merinda Epstein writes about her experiences of falling out of her social class. An earlier version of this paper was published in the Our Consumer Place newsletter December 2012-January 2013.
- What does the "peer" actually mean? - Some questions to stimulate our deeper thinking about peer support work - Some questions that Flick Grey formulated for The Peer Conference, Centre for Excellence in Peer Support, Tuesday, 30 October 2012
- To Live is to Fight: Human Rights in Mental Health - Flick Grey speaking about human rights at the Dax Centre, August 2012
- Shame, Trauma and self-harm: when self-harm is a sane response to an insane world Merinda Epstein's keynote speech on self-harm at the Mental Health Services Summer Forum on Confronting Self-harm, February 2012. (3.6MB)
- This is not about Catharsis!: My time in HDU Merinda Epstein's reflections on her (horrifying) experiences in a High Dependency Unit, mid-2011. Concludes with recommendations for change.
- Becoming more peer-focussed? Flick Grey's talk at the Mental Illness Fellowship, November 30th, 2011 (457 KB)
Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Day (Oct 5th, 2011)
- Preface to "BPD: Diagnosis of Shame" Merinda Epstein's preface words - about the deep role of shame - before her powerpoint.
- "BPD: Diagnosis of Shame" Merinda Epstein's Powerpoint (2.54MB)
- "How can we talk about this?" Flick Grey's opening speech (with poem)
The Mental Health Services (TheMHS) Conference, Sept 2011, Adelaide
- "Positive thinking about Consumers" by Flick Grey (in ongoing collaboration with Merinda Epstein) (1.4MB) This paper was published in TheMHS 2011 Book of Proceedings, in the 'Recommended Reading' section.
Merinda Epstein's cartoons!
At last, Merinda Epstein's (a founding member of the OCP team) insightful and bitingly funny cartoons - consumer-perspective social commentary (on the "mental health system", life with a "mental illness" and the state of the world) are available for your enjoyment.
Merinda reflects: "To go to the heart of the many issues involved with being a consumer of mental health services I have drawn these cartoons which present the issues in a humorous, satirical or ironical manner."
To view the cartoons, click here. These are progressively uploaded, so do come check them out again!
Interviews with international consumer/survivor leaders
As a regular feature in our monthly newsletters, Our Consumer Place team members have been interviewing leaders in the international consumer/survivor movement. And what an amazing bunch of wise thinkers this is!
- Shery Mead: Amongst other things, Shery is the founder of Intentional Peer Support, which teaches peer-run alternatives to crisis services (interviewed October 2008).
- Sylvia Caras: Sylvia is the founder of the magnificent website: www.peoplewho.org, which was one of the very first websites run by and for people with lived experience of mental distress (or as she says "people who ...") (interviewed December 2008).
- Peter Beresford: Peter is Chair of Shaping our Lives, the independent national service user controlled organisation and network in the UK (interviewed March 2009).
- Mary O'Hagan: Mary is a leading international expert and original thinker in the field of mental health recovery-based services, and recently a founder of PeerZone (interviewed March 2010).
- Tina Minkowitz: Tina is a psychiatric survivor and human rights lawyer (interviewed April 2010).
- David W. Oaks: David is Director of MindFreedom International (interviewed May 2010).
- Chris Hansen: Chris has been instrumental in developing and training Intentional Peer Support, as well as being heavily involved in the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (interviewed June 2010).
- Susie Crooks: Susie is a straight-talking, gutsy consumer leader from New Zealand speaks out against chronic normality (interviewed July 2010).
- Ron Coleman: Ron is a Scottish Mental Health Trainer and Consultant, particularly active within the international Hearing Voices movement (interviewed August 2010).
- Oryx Cohen: Oryx is Co-Director of the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community, co-founder of the Freedom Center, former director of MindFreedom's Oral History Project ... and recently founded the project Healing Voices (interviewed October 2010).
- Steve Onken: Steve is a Hawai'i-based recovery scholar and practitioner (interviewed February 2011).
- Debra Wells: Debra is a service user, consultant and educator from New Zealand, with a special focus on trauma-informed care (interviewed June-July 2011).
- Mary Campbell: Consumer Consultant, Te Korowai Whariki, Regional Forensic Rehabilitation and ID Mental Health Services, New Zealand (interviewed April 2012).
- Anne Beales: Director of Service User Involvement at "Together: Working for Wellbeing" (UK) and a keynote speaker from the VMIAC consumer workforce conference (interviewed June 2012).
- Rufus May: a psychologist with lived experience of "mental illness", and gentle revolutionary (interviewed August 2012).
Plus, we have occasionally interviewed locals:
- Kim Koop (September 2009): Kim is CEO of VicServ (Victorian Peak Umbrella Group of community-managed mental health services). Kim does not identify as a consumer/survivor, but has been a wonderful ally in promoting consumer/survivor leadership.
- Catherine Reidy: Catherine shares her work on Pridentity. Grassroots activism at its best! (interviewed October 2011)
A series of golden consumer-perspective research
We decided these incredibly valuable research projects needed to be made accessible so that more of us can learn from them. So, here we present summaries of thes wonderfully sophisticated, consumer-driven projects that yielded such sensible, useful insights. We can't recommend these materials highly enough.
- The Understanding & Involvement Project (U&I): 1991 -2001: an enormous Participatory Action Resarch project (summarised here), that emerged from a localised, grounded, response to a consumer organisation's demand that 'something must be done to change acute services' and that this must be driven by consumers.
- Deep Dialogue 1: Developing a structure that would allow for deep conversations to take place between consumers and service providers.
- Do you Mind? The Ultimate Exit Survey - Survivors of Psychiatric Services Speak Out: Powerful educative materials from survivors about some of the most important issues affecting consumers, including stigma, communication, medication, crisis assessment teams and gender.
- Lemon Tree Learning: An educational resource, looking at the most effective ways that consumers can participate in mental health services
- Lemon Looning Board Game: A teaching resource which is ostensibly a board game, but is really about creating an environment for consumers to educate staff by sharing their experiences in the mental health system.
- Second Deep Dialogue Project: Consumer-Staff Collaborative Groups: A Strategy for Enhancing Workplace Culture in Pursuit of Quality Outcomes.
A consumer's guide to mental illness interventions: a historical view
Did you know that the first iteration of de- institutionalisation happened in Geel in Belgium in the 14th Century? Or that thousands of Russians were locked up in the Soviet Union with a diagnosis of Sluggish Schizophrenia: poor social adaptation, conflict with authorities and pessimism? Did you know that the 'Moral Therapy' that predated early institutionalisation in the late 18th Century is still understood to have been humane, reasonable and kind? This booklet is a snapshot of the major waves of change through time as new ideas emerged, blossomed and then decayed; as the perception of mental despair turns to brain disease to psyche development and back again - nature, nurture, nature... It is in dot point form with lots of references for people to engage further in areas in which they have an interest.
Pluck, acceptance, defiance and fortitude: telling mental illness stories to change the world
Often organisations, services and bureaucracies call for 'representation' in the advice they get from consumers. This booklet argues that although this representation may be illusionary there are ways to understand the major consumer/survivor narratives that inform the stories that people tell not only about their experiences but also about the state of affairs in mental health provision. It is a short booklet for all who have an interest in understanding why consumer perspective is as it is and why there are storylines which are familiar and accountable. Are consumers coached to say what is wanted by services? Are 'grass-root' consumers sought because they are deemed suggestible? Are the loudest people the only ones who are heard? This booklet asks big questions about what constitutes knowledge and why 'logic and science' so often fails consumers.
Doing it together:
A collection of approaches, experiences and purposes of and in Groups, Committees, Organisations, Networks and Movements
This book introduces consumers and others dealing with or working in the mental health system, to the presence and workings of all kinds of 'groups' in that system; we examine and offer examples of groups engaging in different types of processes, with different purposes and operating across the many levels on which our health systems 'reproduce' themselves: everyday life and survival, therapeutic experiences, committee work in organisations and programs, advisory and consultative work at different political levels, and in the 'private' and 'public' areas of health service delivery.
Mad Workplaces: A commonsense guide for people with 'mental illness' on how to navigate the workplace
Mad Workplaces: A commonsense guide for workplaces about working alongside people with 'mental illness'
Many people who live with "mental illness" face complex barriers to meaningful, sustainable employment. Conversely, employing or working with a colleague who has "mental illness" can at times be confusing, frustrating and uncertain (including for people who also have "mental illness"!).
This two-headed book has something for everyone. It's quite different from others on the topic of "mental illness" and the workplace. It's not another resource produced by well-meaning charities or experts, telling people with "mental illness" what's good for us (or why working is good for us). It doesn't assume that people with "mental illness" are "sick" while the rest of the workplace is "healthy". We're not interested in giving out patronising advice about the importance of having a positive attitude, getting up early, eating sensibly and taking your medication.
Instead, we are offering up a realistic and useful booklet that is grounded in lived experience and willing to delve into the hard stuff. It's been written collaboratively by consumers, so we know from experience what we're talking about. There has also been significant consultation with people who employ consumers and people with expertise in relevant laws and employment practices.
Ideally, both consumers and those who work with us will read both sides of the book - and this will lead to true understanding.
In fact, we believe that intelligent management of "mental illness" in the workplace can transform work practices to create a more meaningful and sustainable workplace for everyone!
The Company We Keep: A user's guide to mental health clinicians
Our Consumer Place is pleased to announce the publication of the above booklet. It’s a simple and yet comprehensive booklet on mental health clinicians written from the perspective of the ‘patient’. It is unique in this sense. The booklet contains concrete information about such important topics as registration of clinicians, complaints procedures, medicare considerations, differences between the different clinical groups, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the Federal Governments Better Access Scheme for allied health practitioners.
However, what makes this volume different is its perspective. There are discussions around experiences of clinician’s practice as identified and described by ‘patients’. It includes invaluable information about how to get your medical history under Freedom of Information Legislation, making a Psychiatric Advance Directive, writing a letter of complaint, thanking a clinician when you are still in a therapeutic relationship, experiences of student clinicians and some hints about how we could better help students and new psychiatrists, dealing with inappropriate behaviour of clinicians and making a formal complaint.
We believe that this is the booklet that the clinical sector has been waiting for. Although a booklet this size can never be totally comprehensive it gives consumers and other interested people information that will enable them to move towards a greater understanding of the practices and expectations we should hold for the clinicians who work in mental health.
Download a copy here.
MadQuarry Dictionary 2013
The MadQuarry Dictionary came out of a competition asking consumers to enter ideas, concepts, acronyms, phrases and anything connected to the mental health sector that needed light hearted attention from a consumer perspective. We reduced the number of entries down to 350. We then added a little extra consumer mayhem by creating a dictionary style to the document and adding verb, noun, and proper noun etc at random.
This will be a challenging document for some who might feel personally attacked. This is not its purpose but we do not shy away from consumer’s right to comment on the mental health system. Consumers are aware that the different clinical groups use humour to critique each other. We have no intention of taking sides. This is our humour and will not be understood by some.
See the accompanying information sheet ‘MadQuarry Dictionary - a tool for understanding consumer perspective’. There are also two workshop outlines prepared as a guide to enhance consumers’ use of MadQuarry Dictionary as an educational tool.
Download a copy here
Resources for Educators:
Background information on Madquarry Dictionary (for Educators) available here
Resouces for a two-hour workshop for Clinicians:Workshop plan for Clinicians using MadQuarry Dictionary available here
Presentation Slides for Clinicians using MadQuarry Dictionary available here
Resouces for a two-hour workshop for Community Education:Workshop plan for Consumers using MadQuarry Dictionary available here
Presentation Slides for Consumers using MadQuarry Dictionary available here
The Consumer Movement in Australia: A memoir by Merinda Epstein
Our Consumer Place is proud to announce the launch of our first memoir. Merinda has been working as an advocate and activist in mental health for 27 years. She has worked in Victoria and interstate, at times travelling overseas to represent Australian consumers. She sat on the National Community Advisory Group in Mental Health in the 1990s followed by active participation in writing the constitution of the new Mental Health Council of Australia. She represented Victoria on the first Mental Health Consumer Network and was central to many statewide initiatives in her home State of Victoria.
Parts of this memoir are poignantly honest with Merinda talking about her experiences of being bullied and some of the big questions that still plague both mental health and the consumer movement. Merinda’s writing is both generous and compelling. Her memoir makes fascinating reading both for consumers and for everyone involved in mental health decision making.
She discusses the consumer-led changes services she has witnessed and the problems still faced by a sector which is grappling with ways to understand consumer expertise and leadership. Merinda envisages an enhanced and exciting role consumers will play in the future once they are unburdened from systemic prejudice that remains still in areas of mental health service provision.
Download a copy here
Every consumer we know has at some time or other been expected to be a meeting-sitter. Some sit on Boards as Directors. Some sit on committees for services. Some make a fine art of it and sit on many committees and others get co-opted with trepidation based on previous experience. All too frequently we are offered training in how to be a good committee wo/man, training that never seems to be offered to anyone else on the committee. This booklet takes a frontal assault on the assumptions implied by this sort of training.
This booklet starts from the assumption that it is the committee that needs training in how to respectfully include consumer expertise. Committees might have a lot of learning to do no matter how exalted or how local. It may be that understandings need to be acquired that are quite different from anything some of the external experts have ever been privileged to see before.
The booklet includes a tick-box certificate that we believe every committee member should sign before the committee commences, training provided by consumers, as well as information about dealing with some of the internal rankling within the consumer community. Most of the pieces have questions or contemplation points at the end, encouraging all of us to look beyond the obvious and towards ways consumers can generate the knowledge rather than just react to others’ discourse through meeting arrangements that polarise us
Download a copy here
"Psychobabble: the Little Red Book of Psychiatric Jargon"
Psychobabble has been put together by Merinda Epstein at Our Consumer Place in response to a demand from people diagnosed with 'mental illness' for a collection of psychiatric jargon, acronyms and what we think are some of the silly expressions used in psychiatry - it's our take on the words used by them (and sometimes us) about us.
While some of the explanations are provided simply to define terms and acronyms that people are very confused about, Psychobabble is also an attempt to provide a consumer perspective on concepts that many people (including some clinicians and consumers) haven't thought through or may be happy to leave as they are.
Of course, some parts of Psychobabble are also about having a light-hearted spray at the pontification and judgements made about us - consumers - by some clinicians and medical researchers. We don't believe that such a publication, written from a consumer perspective, has been produced in Australia before. Although Psychobabble is based on Victorian bureaucratic language, experience tells us that many of the words and explanations are transferable interstate and internationally.
We want others to contribute to this work. Please send your ideas, disagreements, reinterpretations, silly stuff, acronyms, and new bureaucratic-speak to Merinda at Our Consumer Place (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Download a copy here
"Deep Insight: Leaders in the International Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Movement share their thinking"
This booklet shares the brilliant and transformative thinking of 11 leaders in the international consumer/survivor movement including Shery Mead, Peter Beresford, Oryx Cohen, Ron Coleman, Mary O'Hagan and many more!
Much of this material has been published before in Our Consumer Place newsletters over the years, but we brought it all together into one booklet so you can enjoy a burst of brilliant, inspired and transformative consumer/survivor thinking in one go! It is a veritable smorgasbord!
Illustrated with new cartoons from Merinda Epstein, this wonderful resource is now available from our website. We sincerely hope you enjoy it - it has been a labour of love to produce!
Download a copy here
"Speaking Our Minds: A guide to how we use our stories"A FREE resource, written entirely by mental health consumers.
This booklet is all about mental health consumers' stories - how we use them, why we might not use them, and how we can best make use of our stories when we do share them.
This isn't just another book written by "mental health experts" telling us what's good for us; instead it's 84 pages all written from the perspective of those of us who have been there and have the stories to tell! And it includes some fabulous new cartoons from Merinda Epstein.
The booklet is free to download from our website (see below). It was launched by the Hon. Mary Wooldridge (Victorian Health Minister) at the opening of Mental Health Week, October 10th, 2011.
Download a copy here
"So, you've got a 'Mental Illness'? ... What now?"A FREE resource written entirely by mental health consumers
Finally! A resource written by those who have been there. This booklet is an introduction to the mental health system, to "consumer perspective" and to some of the diversity of how consumers respond to a diagnosis of 'mental illness,' written entirely by a team of mental health consumers.
It provides information ranging from what "consumer" means to how diagnoses work; from where to find help to human rights frameworks. It is brimming with useful information, all from the perspective of people with lived experience of 'mental illness.'
Beautifully illustrated with cartoons by batty cartoonist and 2004 HREOC Human Rights Award winner, Merinda Epstein, and punctuated througout with thoughts about madness, creativity, power, language and the human condition, this resource will appeal on many different levels.Praise for "So, you've got a 'Mental Illness'? ... What now?":
"Congratulations on a great publication. It is a pleasure to read something that reads so well. You have managed to find a voice that is accessible, sustains itself on the side of the consumer without being in any way shrill or provoking, and at the same time is very informative. I enjoyed reading it, which is a most unusual thing. Why can't all publications in the field of mental health be written in this sort of style. Perhaps the answer is both that it's not all that easy to achieve, as well as that people have been persuaded that managerial styles of writing is what we should be reading."
- Malcolm Morgan, Senior Manager from MIND Australia
Download a copy here