Elvis came to Australia as an international student and was admitted to an inpatient unit after a suicide attempt when he was 18.
I think I hated myself. When I woke up in emergency after [attempting suicide] I was like, ‘I failed in this as well’.
He said he spent months in a youth‑specific inpatient unit, whereas other consumers were gone after a few weeks. He enjoyed the inpatient unit’s dedicated sensory room and says that experiencing the humanity of the mental health workforce was helpful for his recovery.
Good psychologists always took it on a journey of basic things … and want to know more from me, and my feelings and things like that. The bad psychologists that I’ve had, they want to know little from me, and they want to tell me more how wrong I am.
Elvis has also spent time in an adult inpatient unit.
I was in an adult inpatient unit for a short time, that is again scary. As a young person in an adult inpatient unit, it’s very difficult because sometimes people are coming up with very challenging mental health situations, and they are in a very difficult space, and they need more help. And that is scary if you have never witnessed that before.
He reflected that there was not much for him to do while in the unit.
There are not many activities that young people like, there’s no painting, colouring or things like that. Small activities that keeps us young people engaged. It’s more of a hospital space. I would say, you just take medicine, you sit there, you don’t do much, or you might walk around, you might do this and that, but it’s not engaging.
Elvis did not feel that being a young person in an adult inpatient unit helped his recovery.
I wouldn’t really call that recovery model helpful for young people because it does not involve many activities and things that can help young people’s recovery. The recovery of an adult experiencing mental health is very different to the recovery of a young person.
He hopes that the Royal Commission will make a difference for future generations.
What we have right now is much better than any other country, I would say. But [it’s] still not working completely. So we still need to acknowledge that. Yes, we are doing good … but there is a way to go.
Source: RCVMHS, Interview with Elvis Martin, November 2020.