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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Personal story:

Erica Williams

Erica Williams

Erica Williams has a history of mental illness and complex trauma, which she says informs her experience of the mental health system.

At the age of 22, she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, anorexia, major depressive disorder and anxiety, and she has had multiple hospital admissions in the past five years.

The admissions have always been quite helpful. I’ve found them to be really supportive. My discharges were sometimes a little bit early.

She can recall one of the times she was discharged home after a long stay in a mental health facility.

Everyone was so uncertain about what to do […] we weren’t ready for that to happen. There was a lack of middle ground between intensive hospital and being at home. We had to test the water and see if things would get better.

Erica said things didn’t get better and she was on a 24-hour watch while at home.

My community was asked to play the role of a hospital for about two or three weeks, things weren’t getting better. I wasn’t safe and it was an enormous strain on everybody around me.

Nobody is a mental health nurse […] we don’t all know what to do in these situations and a lot of the time that’s what they’re being asked to do when we discharge patients from a kind of really high-intensity inpatient service to a home environment.

Source: Interim Report, November 2019

Photo: by James Bennett and ABC News