Tips, tricks and resources: What’s been helping during COVID-19 and as we transition into our new “normals” | Part 3

Part 3 of our series ‘Mental illness relapse and recovery during a global pandemic: lived wisdom from young people’s perspectives’

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. […] We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” – Sonya Renee Taylor

As a collective, we’ve found that the advice from many think pieces during this time has been removed from lots of people’s actual lived experiences. Right now, we’re in an absolute unknown. Things are going to be and feel different, strange and exhausting as we adjust to completely new versions of “normal”. For some of us, no amount of meditation and mindfulness helps in general, let alone during a pandemic, especially if our basic needs aren’t being met.

This is the final part in our series, ‘Mental illness relapse and recovery during a global pandemic’. For those of us who are working hard on our recovery journey, where can we seek specific support during this time? What are some useful tips, tricks and tools from peers in this space with relevant lived experience?

Continue reading “Tips, tricks and resources: What’s been helping during COVID-19 and as we transition into our new “normals” | Part 3”

How COVID-19 intensifies symptoms of mental illness | Part 2

Part 2 of our series ‘Mental illness relapse and recovery during a global pandemic: lived wisdom from young people’s perspectives

“Shouting self-care at people who actually need community care is how we fail them.” – Nikita Valerio 

For young people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, experiencing isolation and lockdown brings up a whole lot of stuff around coping mechanisms.

In part 2 of our series, we look at some changes in our own behaviour that we’ve observed and some common symptoms for those of us already managing mental illness.

Continue reading “How COVID-19 intensifies symptoms of mental illness | Part 2”

Each person’s experience of COVID-19 is unique | Part 1

Part 1 of our series ‘Mental illness relapse and recovery during a global pandemic: lived wisdom from young people’s perspectives

“We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”Damian Barr

Amid all the noise of think pieces about self-care and the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re not seeing much that focuses on what happens for young people who are in recovery with mental ill-health; in particular, for young people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, isolation and lockdown can have wide-ranging impacts.

In this three part series, we will explore what’s happening and what’s helping during this global pandemic from the perspective of young people with a lived experience of surviving tough times. We will also share some resources and tips we have discovered along the way and are finding useful.

Continue reading “Each person’s experience of COVID-19 is unique | Part 1”

Childhood communications delays – a pilot project

How many babies who experience serious hardships in their first year of life have delayed communication skills?

The Berry Street Take Two team based in Bendigo in the Loddon region of Victoria were worried about this. They welcomed a speech pathologist to work with them for more than a year, as part of Take Two’s Communication Project to help understand the scale of the problem.

Continue reading “Childhood communications delays – a pilot project”

International delegation visits Take Two

By Allison Cox, Director, Berry Street – Take Two

A group of our international colleagues recently came from Norway to spend time with Berry Street’s Take Two service.

The RVTS Sør (South) service is a Norwegian government-funded domestic violence, sexual abuse, traumatic stress, migrant/refugee health and suicide prevention resource centre and training service. They have a special focus on working with children and families.

Continue reading “International delegation visits Take Two”

Playing to her strengths

Not much is known about Elle’s* first year. Her Mum has severe mental health problems and has lots of problems with drugs and drinking.

Elle was removed by Child Protection services from her mother around the time she turned one.

Her father immigrated from Asia. Growing up we suspect he experienced significant trauma during the long civil war in his country. Elle’s father didn’t know about Elle until after she was removed and placed into foster care. When he found out, she went to live with him together with his new partner Trisha.

Continue reading “Playing to her strengths”

Why a baby’s mental health really matters

By Dr Nicole Milburn, Infant Mental Health Consultant & Jen Willis, Communications Consultant, Berry Street – Take Two 

As a community we often discuss the poor mental health of adults and young people, but rarely do we really look at the mental health of babies. This is unfortunate because it is the relationships and environment a baby experiences during infancy that often set the conditions for that baby’s mental health during later adolescence and adulthood.

What is mental health for a baby?
There are three key factors that define early mental health and wellbeing.

Continue reading “Why a baby’s mental health really matters”

Family Drug Treatment Court

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The first Family Drug Treatment Court (FDTC) in Australia launched in Melbourne earlierthis year.

The FDTC is a non-adversarial or problem-solving court model and its aim is to promote family reunification or earlier permanent care decisions for families where parental substance misuse is a major contributing factor of children being placed in out-of-home care.

Whilst participants are engaged in the FDTC, they are supported to address and own their substance misuse and recovery. Intensive clinical case management and wrap-around support is provided by a multi-disciplinary team to address any number of overlapping and complex issues including substance misuse, mental health, housing, family violence, financial and parenting issues.

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Conference delegates will have the opportunity to hear prominent international speakers Justice Peggy Hora and Megan Wheeler, who have years of operational experience in the FDTC sector in the US, discuss why the FDTC works and what intensive case management is all about in this particular practice setting.

There is also the opportunity to sign up for Master Classes to engage even more in depth with specific topics such as development and implementation of FDTC, evaluating success of FDTC, and the intersection between child protection and the FDTC.

Early bird tickets are available until October 17, so don’t miss out!

TARA program helping parents

Kate Cordukes, GoodChildhood 2013_430a Family Therapist and Arts Therapist, and Meisha Clark, a Social Worker and Family Therapist, led a session on the TARA program and the ways they work with parents experiencing violence from their child.

TARA stands for Teenage Aggression Responding Assertively and is an 8 week program for parents with the recent addition of a 1 day workshop. TARA aims to reduce violence, teach anger management strategies and enhance the relationship between parents and their adolescent.

70% of violent adolescents tend to be young men whom target their mothers. And so, anger management and other strategies are discussed in sessions. However, young people in attendance often feel blamed and don’t want to talk.

An aspect of the TARA session geared at parents is ‘family origin’. That is, parents think about the way they were parented and how it has impacted upon their parenting style. Some families are not ready to talk through the issues stemming from family origin issues.

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The notion of self-care is vital to the ability of parents and caretakers to look after their family. Parents need the strength and energy to do things differently at home, and in addition to this, adolescents are telling parents that they need boundaries.

Early intervention and an openness to working on family dynamics are a starting point in tackling violence from an adolescent.

Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.

Is Childhood Improving for Aboriginal Children?

Professor Muriel BamblettProfessor Muriel Bamblett AM, CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), covered issues facing Aboriginal children in today’s society.

And, the stats were shocking.

Aboriginal children today are twenty times more likely to be homeless, receive over 30% less financial support, face a life expectancy 20 years lower than that of non-Aboriginal children, and they are more likely to experience disability, ill health, and a reduced quality of life.

Despite all of that, Muriel reminded us that this data doesn’t tell us about the good things happening in Aboriginal communities and spoke of the successes in culture and sport of indigenous people like singer Jessica Mauboy, AFL star Buddy Franklin & NRL star Jonathan Thurston.

Muriel shared that building Aboriginal culture into everything VACCA do is crucial, and that after their safety, the most important thing to establish in an Aboriginal child’s life is culture and cultural safety.

Professor Muriel Bamblett and cultural identity

How can we help provide an environment which respects that culture around us?

Post written by a youth blogger from SYN Media.

Homelessness- ‘Through the eyes of a Child’

Michelle Clayton
Michelle Clayton, Children’s Resource program coordinator, Southern Region

Presenters Michelle Clayton and Susie Richards, both Children’s Resource Program Coordinators, from the Southern and Eastern Regions respectively looked at issues of homelessness and family violence through the eyes of the children involved.

The key is that, children’s experiences of homelessness are very different to those of adults.

The important moments in this journey might be leaving a pet behind or losing a teddy bear, these are things that need to be understood by the social workers who take on these cases.

But the question is do you have the resources to make a space nurturing for a child and to make your service suitable for a child?

There are plenty of barriers in working with children facing homelessness:

Susie Richards
Susie Richards, Children’s Resource program coordinator, Eastern Region
  • Who is the client? Is it the child, his/her family or parents?,
  • Children aren’t often funded as clients,
  • Children can be somewhat invisible to the worker (as they’re often as school and cannot often be accessed on week days),
  • There is a belief that children are resilient,
  • There is also a belief that fixing the homelessness problem will fix the child (even though the trauma of such an event will impact onto the child’s life for a long period),
  • Parents are protective of children and generally have reasonable parenting abilities,
  • Children’s issues not addressed because of the hierarchy of needs within the family.

The role of the Statewide Children’s Resource Program is to try and overcome these barriers through training, much of which is offered free to agencies, and resource distribution to aid workers who are trying to engage with children facing homelessness.

The program aims to raise awareness among workers about the impacts on health, mental health, education and emotional stability that homelessness can have on a child and some of the simple things that can be done to aid kids through this time, such as having toys for kids to play with in the office.

Toys for children to play with

Workers in this area need to assess their current ideas of children’s rights and their usual methods of dealing with family homelessness.

The Statewide Children’s Resource Program seeks to inspire this assessment and teach workers to improve their practice and support children who face homelessness.

For more information on the type of resources developed visit http://www.homelesskidscount.org/

Post written by youth bloggers from SYN Media.

The role of agency: Understanding children’s safety in the context of family violence

Anita MorrisAnita Morris from the University of Melbourne, presented the findings of her PhD thesis.

What do we currently know about children experiencing family violence?

Undoubtedly it has a negative impact on children’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being but some children appear to have a certain level of resilience compared to others.

Anita’s research fills the gap in family violence research by bringing the voice of the children forward.

The study was based on the question ‘How is safety realised in the context of family violence?’

Anita scaled her participants on a scale from “Vulnerable and Unsafe” to “Safe”

Towards the vulnerable and unsafe end participants reported; forced or intrusive contact with the perpetrator, poverty, substance abuse, poor maternal physical earth, child sexual abuse, chronic mental health/trauma effects, limited informal supports and the role of formal interventions.

Some participants had positive experiences with interventions (relief etc) but for others it had caused unease or worry.

Key Finding: Mothers and children lacked agency for the above reasons.

What does agency mean?

Anita explored different aspects of agency through the interviews with participants and analytical theories.

She defined agency as, children being able to:

  • Act for themselves,
  • Seek and receive answers,
  • Be aware of their roles in the family,
  • Be able to make decisions about who they trust and have that respected,
  • And, that they acknowledge they play a role in family resiliency.

Mothers & children suffering family violence often lack agency

Anita finished the presentation showing a variety of quotes selected from her interviews with mothers and children exposed to family violence, who provided a variety of complex insights into a very complex issue.

Read more about family violence and a book on the subject in a previous post.

Written by bloggers from SYN Media.