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Service Users & Consumers

Consumer Consultants are employed by Mental Health Services throughout Victoria to assist with quality improvement projects through a range of activities. They are also responsible to assist consumers and service users to understand and enact their rights and to gather information that will enable the Mental Health Service to provide services that are needed by the community. 

  • Meet the consumer consultant

    Eila Lyon is the Consumer Consultant for our Mental Health Service.  Consumer Consultants are employed because they have a personal experience of living with a mental illness and they try to ensure that consumers’ interests are respected in all aspects of mental health care.

    If you haven’t heard the word consumer before, it is the term used to refer to people who use mental health services.  Other terms you might have heard or prefer include patient, client, service user or psychiatric survivor.

    Whichever you identify with we encourage you to have as much control over your treatment as you can.  Remember that you are the expert on you and the clinical experts are here to work with you to help you understand what is happening and to help you feel better.  It is a great idea to learn about your rights and what you can expect from the service.  It is also important to understand what is going on, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to, even if you have to ask lots of times.

    If you would like more information about what is happening in other parts of the state, we recommend having a look at the websites of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) www.vmiac.org.au and Our Consumer Place www.ourconsumerplace.com.au .  Also please feel welcome to contact us at participate@swh.net.au or call on  (03) 5561 9100 to chat about anything you’ve read here or if you would like to provide any feedback about our Mental Health Service.

    Most importantly there is life after being diagnosed with a mental health issue!

  • Questions to ask your Psychiatrist

    Several times throughout your involvement with mental health services you will be required to meet with the team psychiatrist. Their role with your care comes from their medical training and they will review both your physical and psychological health. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the questions you have to ask of the psychiatrist. For this reason the Consumer Advisory Group has put together the following list of questions you may wish to ask.

  • Questions to ask your Clinical Therapist

    You will be allocated a clinical therapist to work with you for the duration of involvement with mental health services. Your clinical therapist will work with you to attain your personal goals and work towards your recovery. Just like when you see the Psychiatrist, it can be difficult to remember what questions you have for your clinical therapist. For this reason the Consumer Advisory Group has put together the following list of questions you may wish to ask.

  • Consumer Advisory Group

    South West Healthcare Mental Health Services Consumer Advisory Group is current (or recent past) consumers who are paid sitting fees to advise Mental Health Services Management Committee about issues of importance to consumers, including policy and service development, implementation and evaluation. Ideally, at any one time the Consumer Advisory Group membership will include consumers of adult mental health services, dual diagnosis services and aged persons mental health services. The Consumer Consultant, as a member of the MHS Management Committee, is responsible to manage the agenda and reporting of activities of the Consumer Advisory Group. Consumers can lodge expressions of interest to join the Consumer Advisory Group to the Consumer Consultant. Please note that the number of participants in the Consumer Advisory Group is capped, which means that consumers may join on a limited tenure if there are more expressions of interest than positions available in the group.

  • Stigma

    It is an undisputed fact that individuals who experience mental health issues are often faced with discrimination that results from misconceptions of their illness. As a result, many people who would benefit from mental health services often do not seek treatment for fear that they will be viewed in a negative way. When a person is labelled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

    • Shame
    • Blame
    • Hopelessness
    • Distress
    • Misrepresentation in the media
    • Reluctance to seek and/or accept necessary help

    We all have a role in creating a mentally healthy community that supports recovery and social inclusion and reduces discrimination. Simple ways to help include:

    • Learn and share the facts about mental health and illness
    • Get to know people with personal experiences of mental illness or share your story – your example may well help someone else in their journey.
    • Speak up in protest when friends, family, colleagues or the media display false beliefs and negative stereotypes
    • Be aware of words; don’t reduce people to a diagnosis. Instead of saying “schizophrenic” say “a person with schizophrenia”.
    • Correct people who use hurtful language to describe people with mental illness, such as “crazy” or “psycho”.
    • Offer the same support to people when they are physically or mentally unwell
    • Don’t label or judge people with a mental illness, treat them with respect and dignity as you would anyone else
    • Don’t discriminate when it comes to participation, housing and employment
    • Talk openly of your own experience of mental illness. The more hidden mental illness remains, the more people continue to believe that it is shameful and needs to be concealed.

Page last updated: 11 January 2021

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