Mental Health Services Mental Health Services
Consumers and Carers

Consumers and Carers

We are committed to making sure your voice is heard in our health service. Mental Health Services can only improve when they are built on the experience of people who have used them, and the knowledge of health care workers, working together.

There are many ways you can become involved in our mental health services. One of the simplest ways is to complete a YES or CES survey and give us feedback on our performance. We will use your feedback to help us with planning and changing mental health services to better meet everyone’s needs.

Another great way you can be involved is to become a Consumer or Carer Advisor. Consumer and Carer advisors play an important role in our health service by providing a perspective on the experience of receiving mental health care, and how it could be improved.

What is a Consumer or Carer Advisor?

A Consumer or Carer Advisor is someone with lived experience of mental distress, who is interested in working with our mental health service to provide a perspective and help us improve. You don’t need any prior training.

We want a balance of people with diverse experiences and backgrounds, who can contribute to developing and improving the ways we provide mental health care. We want people with all sorts of experiences, including:

  • young people,
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds,
  • Aboriginal and  Torres Strait Islander people,
  • LGBTI people,
  • people with forensic mental health or incarceration experience and,
  • older people,
  • people in recovery from substance misuse.

What does an Advisor do?

Some of the common roles Consumer and Carer Advisors might provide include:

  • Providing training to clinicians
  • Participate in and planning, service design or evaluation forums
  • Participate in Committees
  • Participating in projects, including quality improvement, research or service design
  • Being on committee’s with other consumers and carers
  • Providing a consumer perspective as some aspect of the mental health service

Will I be trained to be an Advisor?

Yes. We run training sessions throughout the year. If there is external training that is relevant to your role as an Advisor we can support your attendance. We will also provide you with an orientation booklet, and assign you a mentor to support you.

Will I get paid as an Advisor?

The Mental Health Service Consumer and Carer Remuneration Policy describes what we will remunerate people for. Not all Advisor activities are funded, we will make it clear to you whether an activity is funded or not prior to your participation.

What’s involved in being a Consumer or Carer Advisor?

You can participate as little or as much as you want. The most frequent meeting is our Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP), which meets monthly. The Terms of Reference and last few minutes for LEAP are below. If you are keen, you can put your hand up to sit on other committees, like the Mental Health Policy Committee, the Corporate Committee or the Multicultural Access Committee. We also have specific projects where a consumer or carer is sought to provide a perspective. Or you can just participate via email if you’d prefer. Please discuss your participation interests with our Senior Peer Support Worker when you meet, you can do as little or as much as you want

How do I become an Advisor?

If you’re interested in joining us you’ll need to fill out an expression of interest form. You can find that here.

If you have any questions, or would like to know more about becoming a Consumer or Carer advisor, please contact the Senior Peer Support Worker, Jemima Isbester, on Jemima.isbester@health.nsw.gov.au or 0477 368 447, or Megan Still, Service Planning & Innovation Manager, on megan.still@health.nsw.gov.au or 0417 043 648.

Pathways to Peer Work

If you enjoy being a Consumer Advisor, you might want to consider becoming a Peer Support Worker (PSW). The involvement of PSW’s in mental health service provision in enshrined federally in the 5th National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan down to our local Peer Support Workforce. PSWs (PSWs) are people who live with mental distress and intentionally share their lived experience to support, connect and build mutuality and reciprocity with people in similar situations. PSW’s understand what it’s like to live with mental distress and are working towards their own recovery. PSWs purposefully use their stories in a way that builds understanding and awareness around issues of mental health service provision with clinicians.

Peer Support Workers are a valued part of our multidisciplinary team, and participate in all team activities, bringing their unique lived experience and training in peer support to complement to rest of the teams skill set. It’s a great job, if you’d like to know more contact Jemima.isbester@health.nsw.gov.au or call 0477 368 447.

You can find out more about doing the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work at the mental Health Coordinating Council website http://www.mhcc.org.au/. The NSW Mental Health Commission has some great information on the peer workforce at http://peerworkhub.com.au/

Peer Support Worker roles in Sydney Local Health District, and across NSW are advertised on https://iworkfor.nsw.gov.au/