We are the waiting
The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was received by family and friends in mental health with great enthusiasm and support. The excitement when meeting with our members and stakeholders was palpable.
As the dust settles on the launch of the report, the promise of a halcyon future remains, while the realities and challenges of inclusive and significant change have set in.
Family and friends are crying out on our Tandem Support and Referral Line (1800 314 325) for someone to at least acknowledge they exist as they attempt to seek help for the person they love and/or support for themselves amid an international pandemic.
They seek information to support and navigate a system with no signposts. As a family member, friend or supporter they wait for waitlists to be addressed and for services struggling to respond to the serious distress of clients and family members.
These often-invisible champions, who might be a child, parent, grandparent, partner, ex-partner or friend to name but a few, face more and more marginalisation by service providers. They feel they are being dismissed as they continue to try fruitlessly to access help for the person they love.
In the meantime, while everyone waits, they experience growing rates of physical harm or worse at the hand of the person they love, unable to access the help they so desperately seek.
They do not want to call for help in crisis because they do not want those they love to be harmed. And so instead, they sit with hope for a future they cannot imagine — and wait.
Yes, the final report promises much. In the meantime, family, friends and those they love and support are suffering more and more, and they can’t continue to wait in limbo.
Marie Piu is Chief Executive Officer at Tandem Inc. You can hear more from her during the upcoming Preparing for Reform symposium where she will participate on a panel titled Putting reform into practice in the Victorian mental health sector.