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Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System

Caroline's story

Caroline is a Carer Peer Worker who believes her son received the best possible care in an inpatient unit when clinicians and other staff recognised families and the service and found a negotiated way to include them in the recovery process. She became a peer worker so others could experience that same positive journey.

Our family already had a substantial history with the mental health system so we weren’t expecting anything apart from the familiar cold shoulder when our son was admitted to another inpatient unit. What we experienced though turned out to be life-changing.

Just having someone check in with us, ask us our name and how we were managing was so validating and a world apart from what we’d already experienced. The nurses and other staff made us feel welcome, and our son’s clinicians negotiated treatment and therapy sessions where we could contribute as parents and as a family as well as hear what our son needs from us. We’ve become so much more resilient and stronger for that experience.

I ended up tracking down the first staff member who approached us to thank them and found out they were a Carer Peer Support worker, whose job is to support carers and families in the service to better support the person who’s admitted. That idea seemed too powerful to me, so I decided that that was what I wanted to do with my work; to make sure others had the same positive experience that I did.

* Names and places have been changed to protect individuals.

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While we welcome you to share your story with us, we are not able to provide clinical advice, referrals or support. If you or someone you know require assistance or need to talk to someone please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.