Newsletters

March 2006

Newsletter No. 9

MHYF Vic 2005 Annual General Meeting

The MHYF Vic 2005 Annual General Meeting was held at Portabella Café in Albert Park on Wednesday 9th November. Pleasant surroundings, good food and cheerful company made for a very nice evening. The business part of the meeting (the official reports and election of office- bearers) was disposed of before the meal, leaving the after-dinner time for presentations on a couple of key projects currently under way, brief comments on the forthcoming IACAPAP Conference, AICAFMHA and a summary of our Strategic Plan.

President’s Report
Dr Allan Mawdsley presented his first President’s report since taking office one year ago. He paid tribute to the hard work of the Committee and spoke about the major contributions they had made to MHYF Vic over the year.

A three-phase development plan was being implemented for MHYF Vic to “improve communication”, “become knowledgeable” and “become influential”.

Improving communication involved development of our website, our Newsletter, and our network of liaison persons in every CAMHS, professional discipline group and organization relevant to child and adolescent mental health.
Becoming knowledgeable involves members working in Project Groups on topics of their own interest, to develop best practice models for advocacy by MHYF Vic.

Becoming influential involves increasing our membership to lobby more effectively on improvements in mental health service delivery in line with the best practice models revealed through our Project Groups. It is not our goal to be strident but to be heard because what we are saying has value. The Strategic Plan and Targets are to be outlined later in more detail.

Secretary’s Report

Rebecca Riseley presented her report on the year’s events, particularly highlighting the increased interest in MHYF Vic arising from the new brochure and development of the new website and also the regular electronic newsletter thanks to our editor, Dianne Camilleri.

MHYF Vic has a heavy involvement in the forthcoming IACAPAP Conference, and Committee member, Jennifer Luntz, has been appointed as the Victorian Director of AICAFMHA (the Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association).

Dr Winston Rickards (Immediate Past President) was this year awarded the Order of Australia medal for his contribution to child and adolescent psychiatry.

A youth-focused forum is now being developed for MHYF Vic under the leadership of Paul Tribe. A number of other projects are also under development.

Treasurer’s Report

Suzanne Robson presented the financial statements for the MHYF Vic year. Every effort is being made to control costs, such as using email for newsletters instead of the much more expensive postage. MHYF Vic ended the year with a bank balance of $5,528.24, not a lot but enough to keep us active in the coming year.

Election of Office Bearers

PRESIDENT Dr Allan Mawdsley
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Dr Winston Rickards
SECRETARY Ms Rebecca Riseley
TREASURER Ms Suzanne Robson
COMMITTEE Dr Suzanne Dean, Jennifer Luntz, Lillian Tribe, Paul Tribe, Jacqueline Grady, Dianne Camilleri.
MHYF Vic Strategic Plan & Targets

Aims:

To promote mental health in the young.
To advocate policies for mental health.
To seek and promote new knowledge.
To reduce stigma.
To encourage collaborative partnerships
(providers, consumers, carers).

Objectives:

Representing workers in the field.
Sharing information about mental health for the young.
Promoting best practice.
Lobbying for better funding of service and research.
Liaising with similar organisations.
Becoming a stronger organisation.

These objectives are expanded below:

Representing workers in the field

Basic Strategy: Communication through Liaison persons.

One Year Target:
All 13 CAMHS and all professional groups.
Six organisations.
Victorian consumer networks.
Mental Health Branch meetings.

Five Year Target:
Maintain and extend liaison.
Thirty organisations.

Sharing information about mental health for the young

Basic Strategy: newsletter and website.

One Year Target
5 media watch and consumer opinion postings per month.
15 liaison postings per month.

Five Year Target
25 media watch and consumer opinion postings per month.
60 liaison postings per month.

Promoting best practice

Basic Strategy: Project Groups developing submissions.

One Year Target
8 Project Groups.

Five Year Target
25 Project Groups.

Lobbying for better funding of service and research

Basic Strategy: identify sources and seek influence.

One Year Target
Preliminary listing.

Five Year Target
Active lobbying and participation.

Liaising with similar organisations

Basic Strategy: forming strategic alliances to assist and support each other.

One Year Target
8 organisations.

Five Year Target
25 organisations.

Becoming a stronger organisation
Basic Strategy: increasing membership, extending linkages, improving finances.

One Year Target
100 professionals, 25 consumers/carers.
Linkages as above.

Five Year Target
One third of CAMHS staff, 1000 consumers/carers.
Linkages as above.
State branch of federal structure of AICAFMHA.

The full text of the Strategic Plan and the One & Five Year Targets can be found in the “Policies” section of the MHYF Vic website.

Allan Mawdsley

Mental illness and the media

StigmaWatch is a web-based program by SANE Australia to promote accurate, balanced and sensitive depictions of mental illness and suicide by exposing cases of media stigma to public scrutiny and encouraging journalists to be fairer and more accurate in how they report mental illness.
Reports from the public are verified before those responsible are contacted with an explanation of the harm stigma causes. Responses are posted in the Stigma Files.

SANE Australia produces the annual StigmaWatch Report, which is a summary on how the media has fared in undertaking balanced reporting of mental illness.
SANE Australia works in partnership with The Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and the National Media and Mental Health Group who have developed the Mindframe Media Strategy. Its aim is to promote responsible and accurate reporting of suicide and mental illness in the media.

The guidelines include recommendations on how suicide and mental illness should be reported in news stories and the type of use of language when reporting these issues.

Other projects undertaken by the National Media and Mental Health Group includes the Media Monitoring Project, which was a twelve-month study of how journalists portray suicide and mental illness in the media, and The ResponseAbility Project, which introduces journalism students to the concepts of safe reporting of suicide and the non-stigmatising of mental illness.

In late August, the former leader of the opposition in New South Wales, John Brogden, attempted suicide. Unfortunately, many of the guidelines were not followed as the following excerpts from the Stigma Files relating to this issue clearly demonstrate:

On the 31st of August after media reporting of the John Brogden suicide attempt, “SANE Australia urged media professionals to be mindful of the national guidelines for reporting mental illness and suicide.

Some media professionals reported that they found the reminder useful and timely.”

“Triple M presenter Spoonman described Mr John Brogden’s reported suicide attempt as unsuccessful and ‘half-arsed’ on 31.08.05.

SANE Australia wrote to Austereo general manager Patrick Joyce on 09.09.05, expressing concern that Spoonman inappropriately framed suicide as a successful outcome and encouraged callers to give details about suicide attempts.”

“Christopher Pearson, writer for The Weekend Australian described the reported suicide attempts of Mr Brogden and Senator Sherry as ‘ineffectual’, ‘half-hearted’, ‘half-arsed’ and not ‘a serious attempt’ on 09.09.05.

SANE Australia wrote to Mr Pearson on 14.09.05, expressing concern that he had inappropriately framed suicide as a successful outcome.”

The media handling of this issue clearly demonstrated the inappropriate language that is often used to describe suicide. Unfortunately, this not only stigmatises those with mental illness and their families but also contributes to the large amount of misinformation on mental illness in the community.

For further information on the StigmaWatch campaign, go to the website of SANE Australia: www.sane.org/

Mindframe Media and Mental Health Report can be downloaded from www.mindframe-media.info. This web site also has updates to the media guidelines as well as information on other projects.

Suzanne Robson

Exciting News

Congratulations to Rebecca Riseley and her partner who are expecting their first baby in mid-2006.
Any expressions of interest by members in becoming Secretary of MHYF Vic should be directed to rjriseley@optusnet.com.au

Dianne Camilleri, Editor

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