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Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System

Esther's story

"The week leading up to Lily’s admission was awful. We were both exhausted. When I knew she was on her way to the high dependency unit I was a mixture of guilty and relieved. Guilt that I couldn’t have helped her better but relieved at the thought that finally, she might get access to the support and the services she needed and deserved.

That relief quickly dissipated when I got a look inside the unit. It looked and felt like a prison. Fluro lights on 24/7, grey and fading walls, dirty windows, stark and uninviting rooms with no privacy or security. I felt sick, like we’d been tricked, like I’d handed my daughter over to gaolers rather than doctors and nurses. How were distressed people supposed to feel safe here?

After listening to my daughter's experiences and reading what’s come out of report after report in the mental health sector I know now that they didn’t feel safe because they weren’t. Exposure to violence, sexual assault and abuse. Staff members who didn’t know how to report instances like these to the police or what to do in terms of following up with patients. It’s disgraceful. It’s disgraceful that we’ve let this go on for so long. We must do more. Safety is a basic human right and if we can’t guarantee that in our mental health services then we are failing as a society to meet our most basic obligations to one another."

* Names and places have been changed to protect individuals.

Will you add your voice to let everyone know about the state of the mental health system?

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