Our first few months
Since opening our doors last year our Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) service has established 25 outposts at mental health services across the state.
‘It’s been a very important step for our advocates to be there, a visible and approachable presence in hospitals and clinics where people are being compulsorily treated,’ says IMHA Manager Helen Makregiorgos.
‘Sitting within those services also helps us build knowledge as to what we’re about, and how we can help, among clinical and other staff.
‘To further increase that awareness, we have also held more than 116 information sessions, reaching around 1057 people.
‘It’s been a diverse group. As well as consumers, there have been mental health clinicians and support staff, consumer advocates, carers and community services.’
Between IMHA’s first day of operation on August 31 and December 31 2015, the IMHA team have provided intensive support – advocacy, and coaching to prepare people to self-advocate – 1012 times. Information and referral was provided more than 1900 times.
‘Other very important pieces of work are making sure we have a consumer perspective on everything we do,’ says Helen.
‘We are setting up a consumer advisory group which attracted very strong interest. We held information sessions in December and from that, received 55 expressions of interest and 37 written applications.
'We are conducting interviews this month. Given the enthusiastic response, we will also look for further opportunities for those who aren't successful to be involved in other ways.'
Helen says that consumer consultant Daniel Van der Pluym has also come on board. He is on secondment from the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, and will be working with people who have experienced compulsory treatment to hear from them about their advocacy and self-advocacy information and resource needs.
Helen says the team have been working to establish referral protocols with other mental health organisations.
‘We have also worked closely with the Victorian Aboriginal Health . Our posters and postcards have been co-branded and we have been talking about ways we can collaborate to ensure advocacy for Indigenous people who would like our support.’
Find out more about Daniel Van der Pluym
Reviewed 23 July 2021