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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Personal story:

Amelia Morris

Amelia Morris

Amelia’s mental health began to deteriorate when she was about 15 years old. Living in a regional area, it was difficult for Amelia to find the support she needed.

the closest headspace centre was a 45‑minute drive away, with no public transport, and it was only open between 9am and 5pm. My mum had to take time off work, pick me up from school, drive me to headspace, wait for my appointment to finish, drive me back to school and then drive herself back to work.

While Amelia sees value in headspace, there came a point where she needed more intensive support.

While I believe headspace plays a positive role for many young people, it was insufficient to meet my needs. There was nothing for me in between primary care and the emergency department. As someone with more complex needs, I felt abandoned by the mental health system when I needed it most. I also feel that the services I have managed to access are not suitable for me as a young person.

Amelia was moved to an inpatient ward in Melbourne, away from her familiar supports and surroundings.

I spent nearly three months in the psychiatric hospital in Melbourne. I turned 17 just after my arrival there. I was two hours away from my family and friends, who could only visit me on weekends because of school and work … I had restricted access to my mobile phone, meaning I was not always able to communicate with my support networks. I felt incredibly isolated from the people I loved.

Amelia would like to see better access for consumers in rural and regional areas.

Access should also be improved for rural and regional communities, especially people within these communities with complex needs. Like me, some people may be forced to go to Melbourne and leave their support network to get help. This was a very isolating experience for me and I believe it impacted upon my recovery.

Amelia felt abandoned by the mental health system.

when I asked for help, it felt like there was nothing there … It’s so heartbreaking when you finally work up the courage to voice the horrible things that you’re experiencing, but there’s nothing there to help you.

Amelia reflected on the impact her mental health challenges and having to move out of her community had on her family.

There needs to be more support for families. During the time I was in hospital, my sisters were 15 and 13. There was no support for them or for my parents. While not everyone wants their families involved, more support should be provided for families and carers.

Source: Witness Statement of Amelia Morris, 24 June 2019.