Outcome 8: Employment
I have changed the order because I do not believe our society will be well served (and resources well spent) by people disabled by mental injury and illness if 1-6 are not fulfilled before the person becomes involved in education and employment.
Also comments within the introduction of the Strategy appear to not cover mentally injured abuse victims and discount people with mental injury as a result of abuse and overwhelming trauma as disabled.
I find it interesting that the people writing this document think there has been real progress, when I have only seen worsening statistics in suicide, self-harm, violence and sexual offences. More people living on the streets, in unsafe unstable environments, more dysfunction and badly serviced, if in fact getting any services at all.
The convention was ratified in 2008 – that is eight years ago and things have deteriorated for those with stress disorders. It is a condition of the convention that things continually improve for disabled people – they are not.
Children disabled by abuse and overwhelming trauma (which causes a mental injury) are poorly served, living dysfunctional lives of unresolved trauma that impacts on them and those around them every day – it can lead to years of unnecessary suffering, poverty, alienation, suicidal ideology, addiction, phobias, eating disorders, aggressive behaviour, etc. Many only coming into contact with services through welfare, police and justice agencies. For some prison fulfils many of the psychosocial needs they don’t have met in a hostile and uncaring community.
Overwhelming unresolved trauma as a child (eg sexual, physical and psychological abuse) and neglect affect brain development. It has to be accepted some of these children will need life-long support to be well functioning parents and valued members of society.
A positive aspect to stress disorders is the heightened right brain activity, which includes creativity – which is why the arts are so fundamental in the expression, healing and resolving of trauma. I find poetry, writing, music and other creative arts very therapeutic, but my expression of these is hampered by my disorder and no access to resources to develop and be valued for my talents.
My Vision Statement for Mental Injury Services:
To be a world leader in the
and support of the mentally injured.
to have a positive affect on
the happiness and prosperity
of all the community.
I would also point out that the strategy has had very little input from families with histories or issues with abuse and trauma. To me it is very focused on physical and sensory disabilities with little acknowledgement of psychological and emotional ones. It was noted earlier this year that people with mental health issues are the least wanted as neighbours and most victimised. It is well known that many of those with long term mental health issues are homeless or stuggling to provide themselves a safe home.
Community is not changing it is getting worse, with good reason, so many dysfunctional and dangerous mentally injured and ill people are rotting with few or no services in the community – services they are entitled to under ACC, health, disability, criminal, imperial, human rights and bill of rights laws. The Community are scared as are those with mental health issues continually denied professional treatment care rehabilitation along with access to justice and safety – but nowhere near as scared as the disabled.
One psychologically dysfunctional person can traumatise dozens if not hundreds of people – including children – I believe that is the main reason we see deteriorating family and sexual violence statistics. The brain is the most complicated organ of the body, it controls EVERYTHING we do from breathing, to loving, hating and violence. I believe in the area of mental health far too many unqualified/or poorly qualified people are currently making medical decisions for this disabled group. Poor decisions and centred around the use/abuse of psychotropic drugs – which I believe in the area of mental injury, of an otherwise ‘normal’ person, is extremely detrimental to healing, resilience and overcoming past and current trauma.
Our communities won’t change, history has shown us that – from research I have done, and stories like those of Janet Frame – I discovered NZ developed its extensive institutional mental health facilities mid 20th century because people with this form of disability were not coping in the community. Although I agree in part with shutting down some of these institutions, they were not replaced with a professional support and health network – the lack of safe stable housing is at an extreme level currently. For people disabled by mental injury there needs to be ‘retreats’ specialising in this form of rehabilitation – which in turn focus on different forms of trauma and some of the debilitating impairments people develop. (Note: you cannot mix offenders with victims and expect people to feel safe to heal.)
For example, I am easily enraged when triggered by being physically threatened, degraded and discriminated against. This is an impairment related to my disability, I have learnt to manage it mostly, but have the police file to prove at times I become so frustrated and angry with how agencies like ACC, MSD, mental health and police treat me (along with politicians) I am often arrested. Noting I am never violent towards others but I do retaliate verbally – I am however violent towards myself.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO ME
That I have somewhere safe to live where I can heal from my mental injury. That I have access to models, laws and documents like the disability strategy.
Along with all the items listed in the disability strategy. Which are also mirrored in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, human rights act, ACC legislation, Bill of Rights, Welfare agreements, etc. So many documents saying so many good things while society deteriorates – time to do this the right way.
That we have a multi-disciplinary approach to rehabilitation (as outlined in Shrawan Kumar’s book 2000 – Butterworth & Heinemann) in the area of mental health, particularly mental injury. That I am able to have a Whare Tapa Wha approach to my rehabilitation and extensive professional Occupational Therapy services (I would envisage Social Workers, counsellors, mental health workers given OT training – these people are pivotal in a comprehensive well run, co-ordinated, efficient, rehabilitation plan). Every one of this team needs to be educated in the area of traumatic stress disorders and the laws, expectations.
I would have a psychiatrist of my choosing overseeing my rehabilitation and progress, an Occupational Therapist, a counsellor, mental health support worker, lawyer, people in the community, trauma art therapist, education support and access to culturally appropriate residential ‘retreats’ when necessary. That my GP would be kept informed and from time to time saw me to check on progress to independence and prosperity.
I would have care in the community and help to reintegrate back into the community. I would be able to go on a ‘retreat’ for six weeks of drug free healing and intensive care (which is actually a requirement in the ACC legislation). Intensive care of traumatised people at the beginning is far more humane and cost effective than as the person deteriorates through medical neglect.
Outcome 1: Attitudes
I am valued by society just like everyone else
Now I know why I was avoiding writing this submission, it is the attitudes of some people, especially those in authority, in health and justice services that are the worst. Also those of my family and many in the community who don’t really know me and what I have been through.
The attitudes of police I was recently subjected to who think I am refusing health care, am mentally ill and that’s why I make this my job, plus wasting their time.
Government show over and over again through changes to welfare legislation that they think disabled people are of no value, except for making money for drug companies and creating lots of jobs for lawyers, welfare agencies, judges, police, justice system, etc.
Reporting by media in the area of violent mental health cases is uninformed, discriminatory and biased. I protest regularly and extensively, along with making submissions and writing to various people – media refuse to tell my story, what I know and what I do – what I’m fighting for.
Outcome 2: Justice
I am treated the same way as everyone else by the justice system.
Hell no, this is not appropriate in the area of mental injury given the high levels of stress involved when forced by police to do anything – especially in a terrified or heightened state. People with traumatic stress disorders need their phobias and triggers acknowledged and accommodated if at all possible. Being near an exit, or being able to escape is a well recognised behaviour in abused people.
Police sometimes accommodate my disorder and make arrests as stressless as possible – I am rarely held in the cells now and often out within 30 minutes.
As Justice Winkelman has said disabled people are not getting access to justice and this needs to change. The objective with mentally injured people would be to keep them out of the justice system, not have police and the justice system as the bottom of the cliff mental health services. Although there has been a significant amount of resources go into people in prison, especially in the arts and being able to work, education and some health services.
Then of course there are the mentally injured and ill people who are dangerous to society, pedophiles, paranoid, physically and sexually violent. People we know are like this should not be allowed in the community, even with 24 hour supervision. Ashley Peacock doesn’t have that priviledge and he hasn’t killed or sexually abused anyone.
There are currently many dangerous mentally injured and ill in the community, these people need health and welfare services before they need justice services. We all need to be kept safe, I have heard stories of dangerous mentally ill people begging judges for health care and being forcibly removed from court with nothing.
There are significant improvements in the care of mentally injured and ill people in police custody. Several officers at Wellington Central have said they need mental health workers at the station at all times – men and women. They need somewhere and someone to get those with mental health issues out of the cells and into care. I heard one senior officer make three phone calls trying to get someone to come and get a teenager with mental health issues that had been dropped by adolescent mental health services.
The fact is many mentally injured and ill people cannot get protection and representation of a lawyer. They are either too busy, not skilled in this area of law or cannot afford to do legal aid work – this is against the law – (the Magna Carta). You can’t just say this is happening without something being done to rectify it (upskilling of lawyers in dealing with mentally injured and traumatised people is vitally important).
Currently police are being used in a punitive way – which is against the law. I have had the police called 15 times for welfare visits in four months, called by health justice and media organisations and never once did I say I was going to kill myself. Though I do suffer from suicidal ideology which is a living nightmare when it is bad. Police are supposed to help but they intimidate and humiliate – often just by being there, I have had several bad experiences with bigoted officers. I wrote to police and begged them not to come to my house, they ignored me. They have also turned up 11pm at night and frightened me badly.
Currently I am up on five charges 1 of Misuse of a Telephone for phoning ACC and screaming for care (after being told for past 5 years my care would be reinstated), 3 counts of using chalk pen on windows at Carterton Police station (after 2 officers insulted me for 10 mins I did a swastika), Wgtn High Court after I was assaulted by security, refused a lawyer and refused access to watch Tony Ellis and the case of torture with 3 mentally ill men. Also the Appeal Court in Wellington for a swastika and writing lies all over the words on that building about justice and law. Also for Wilful Trespass of High Court for refusing to leave re Tony Ellis case.
I have been taken to court by police multiple times, many times the charges have been dropped just before the case (I would have gone twice before however). I have won four cases in court for wilful trespass, one I had to appeal a conviction of wilful trespass of ACC for a legal protest. One for legally protesting outside the DHB offices at Masterton Hospital, which I had to defend myself – thankfully judge Tuohy was very accommodating of my stress disorder and helped me through the process. This is a gross waste of money for me and the government, as well as stressful for me and challenging for court staff – as I no longer handle things well. My last appearance – alone – was two weeks ago and I ended up curled up in a ball on the floor in a corner with a large painting of mine in front of me, with my eyes closed and fingers in my ears, crying, frightened of everything and everybody. I have been in this position several times since I was assaulted and bullied by Wairarapa police, I have made a formal complaint about what happened being unjustifiably violent.
I am sometimes kept in the cells too long and have broken down several times, there should have been people available to sit with me, or I should have been taken to a room with a window and if no risk taken for a walk outside – especially if I am there a long time. A couple of months ago I was arrested for protesting and kept under mental health for five hours in the cells as punishment for swearing and yelling at staff at police headquarters about Its Not OK propaganda. Mental health came and went – I am petrified of mental health services there is no way I would tell those people anything, mostly I am triggered and swear at them about how bad their services are.
I have spoken to dozens of policemen and women who all agree with what I protest about mental health services being inadequate and not what they say.
Outcome 3: Choice and Control
I can make my own choices and have control over my life just like everyone else.
This does not happen currently, especially with people like me who refuse psychotropic drugs on religious and ethical grounds. The part about care and services being client centred are not true in regard to mental injury and mental health services. Most do not get a say, once people have a psychotic episode or attempt suicide and are put under mental health act the majority of public mental health services heavily medicate. Especially the lazy ones and most bigoted, like the head of mental health in Wairarapa who dislikes women. We also have the highest rate of compulsory treatment orders and use of psychotropic drugs.
I live in Carterton, I would like to continue living in my own community, however there are no available and suitable homes. Even though it is a requirement that disabled people have access to social housing. I would prefer to be able to buy my own home which I believe is a cultural right and I should be offered a government loan to do this. Under the Crimes Act people must have the necessaries of life and a safe stable home is one of them – especially for a traumatised person.
I should be able to ask for the help I read about in laws and brochures, not be rejected, not be further traumatised by the system, my human rights must be protected not just promoted.
Outcome 4: Health and Wellbeing
I have the same level of health and wellbeing as everyone else.
I am supported to be the best person I can be, to self-actualise and have a life worth living. I will manage my health and be grateful for the support I am given by participating to the best of my ability.
I will have the necessaries of life as outlined in Maslows Hierachy of Needs, I will not feel life is to frightening and not worth living. I will not feel worthless, like human sewage and on a torture wheel of hell from services supposed to help and protect me.
I will have access to other health care needs besides my mental health – which I am currently not having in several areas as I am too afraid to see the doctor. When you don’t want to live it is difficult to get yourself to beg for help about less significant medical conditions – I have issues with my bladder and kidneys but have been unable to have tests required done for past two years. Because I need my ACC care back and mental health support worker to go with me – I have no-one else I feel safe taking.
I will have the gym membership and support I had as part of my ACC rehabilitation plan in 2009, to help deal with my increasing weight and eating disorder. I will be able to see a professional about my eating disorder, which I havn’t been about to do for over 10 years.
Wellbeing include psychosocial support to reintegrate successfully into the community – from which I have become isolated due to poor mental health, poverty and unemployment. I will reconnect with my whanau, as I have become distant from them as well, they dislike that I don’t work and do the activism I do.
Outcome 5: Accessibility
I can access places, services and information just like everyone else.
I need help with this as I have tried for years to access the treatment care rehabilitation justice etc I am entitled to under law without success. This is something my lawyer could assist with to start with as I am currently turned away repeatedly.
I have a home that enables me to participate in my community. In the current housing crisis this is a serious issue for me and many others. I live in private rental accommodation with a flatmate who takes advantage of me and I need him to leave but I can’t say anything. I could be asked to leave with six weeks notice if family wanted to move in. The thought terrifies me as I have had so many bad experiences moving, I moved 4 x in 12 months a couple of years ago – sent my stress disorder off the scale. I have lost many things, had many broken and many stolen in all my moves.
I can regain the confidence to perform my poetry and plays, learn more about creative writing for profit and to share history and fantasy with my community.
That as I heal and no longer need intensive services that at any time in the future when I am overwhelmed with trauma I can return to services without question.
That I am not assessed to death, and have this processed used as a form of denying services rather than providing appropriate professional services depending on physical, psychological and psychosocial needs.
Outcome 6: Leadership
I have the same opportunities for leadership as everyone else and there are leaders who can represent me.
This is definitely not happening in mental health and I do not feel there are any leaders or organisations representing me in any meaningful way. In fact I feel our leaders are ignorant, arrogant and disrespectful of my expertise, experience and talents.
Outcome 7: Education
I have the same education outcomes just like everyone else.
I was studying law at Victoria before I was mentally injured in 2002, I had passed five out of six papers – one I had dropped, I was very busy as a single parent and owner manager in my franchise business. After I was hurt I tried but could not go back to university, I have since done papers in rehabilitation, health, journalism, creative scriptwriting, but none were successful due to my disability and inadequate support.
If I have received an ACC Independence Allowance of $18 per week, half of it has to go to my student loan – which is incredibly unjust – also I disagree with the level of this allowance but could not challenge it.
I have reports saying I am intelligent, do not have a personality disorder and am not delusional, yet I do not work and am rotting on welfare. I protest and participate in submissions like this because I know my disorder, I know what I need, know what I’m entitled to and know what a professional rehabilitation plan actually entails.
According to ACC legislation they are required to return me as near as practicable to my previous life – they have never made any attempt to do this. I have tried and failed because they refuse to support those things I believe are necessary, for years I tried to heal myself – I failed over and over again until I gave up and started being a Civil Society Actor in the area of mental health full time. If I can’t work then I don’t want to live – simple as that. And I want a job that uses my knowledge and talents.
Disabled people, in fact no people, should have to pay for their education. Disabled people are currently driven out of the neo-liberal capitalist working environment, which does not allow for people who are not 100% fit and efficient to do the job – they don’t want anybody that cannot earn a maximum – that’s what they call productivity.
As the New Zealand government has signed the Economic Social and Cultural Rights covenant, as well as the disability rights declaration I believe they are responsible for ensuring disabled people have valued work. That will require the government to create meaningful jobs, or support the disabled person to create a meaningful job for them and perhaps others. I would like to develop my scriptwriting and write the multiple plays I have started to develop, including plays about NZ history. I would like to record some of my songs and work with a band to see if they are valuable when professionally produced.
I am an advocate for Te Whariki – an early childhood document that I believe could be extended to cover all education.
Mentally injured and ill students must be given extra help they are entitled to in order to achieve their best. Many have behavioural issues and need more intensive support, or learn through doing, many are creative but not very academic and avenues to develop creative talents need to be provided.
An older student cannot learn efficiently or sometimes at all if they are extremely stressed due to housing issues or poverty. People who are studying need to be provided safe accommodation and/or travel to education (eg travel from Carterton to Victoria , Massey or Whitiraia).
Outcome 8: Employment
I have the same employment outcomes and opportunities as everyone else.
One of my most basic desires and requirements of any rehabilitation plan I participate in, is how it is going to facilitate my returning to work and value in the community, that improves my mental health, not makes it deteriorate.
I have learnt a lot over the past 14 years, along with my artistic expression I want to use what I have learnt to help and protect other men women and children with mental injuries. I want to see realised all the resources services and facilities required to provide the professional treatment care rehabilitation and justice people, with mental injures as a result of abuse, are entitled to under ACC, health, disability, criminal, imperial, human rights and bill of rights laws.
As referred to previously in our current economic climate people with disabilities (or those caring for them) are mostly unemployed – this needs to be addressed by government and not just left to the community. They are not the ones who created this low wage, high unemployment, unequal society, government did and they have a responsibility to all disabled people to ensure their lives are worth living.
Kia kaha to us all.