Mental Health Complaints Commissioner: “On R U Ok Day, it’s OK to not be OK”

8 September 2022

As part of its support for R U OK day, The Mental Health Complaints Commissioner (MHCC) believes that it is important to recognise that it’s OK not to be OK.

The MHCC is driven by the lived and living experiences of consumers, carers and their families who make a complaint about the public mental health system. Talking about your experience of mental health issues or distress can be a challenging and confronting experience but it can help lead to a better system and tackle stigma.

Assistant Commissioner, Lived Experience and Engagement, Maggie Toko said R U OK day is an important opportunity for us to challenge the stigma that many experience when talking about mental health in the community.

“The honest answer to the question R U OK can be ‘no’ - and that's OK and understandable, but it's not something that has to be carried alone. You are not alone in your journey,” said Maggie Toko.

“It’s important that stigma doesn’t disable you from talking about not being OK. It’s OK to feel emotional pain, and it’s OK to not get caught up with always having to be OK.”

Elvis Martin, a member of the MHCC’s Lived Experience Advisory Council and Youth Leader said that asking somebody how they are going can have a significant impact.

“A conversation can save a life. I can tell this from my lived experience. Being there for someone when they are going through hardship and to just listen to them – that is the best human thing you can do,” said Elvis Martin.

Elvis, a passionate advocate for the LGBTIQA+ community is representing Australia at the One Young World Global Summit 2022 in Manchester, UK this week.

While battling stigma around mental health challenges and ‘not being OK’ can be difficult, it can also be difficult to speak up if you have had negative experiences when receiving treatment at any public mental health service.

In Victoria, everyone has the right to make a complaint about a public mental health service. If something doesn’t feel right, consumers, carers and their families can make a complaint directly to the service or to the MHCC.

“The MHCC is all about accepting where you are at during you’re the journey of your complaint. If that space is difficult for you, then that’s OK – the MHCC will take the time to hear your concerns and work with you to assist with your complaint. Even if we can’t help with your concerns, we will do our best to connect you with people who can,” said Maggie Toko.

At the MHCC, complaints are viewed as a valuable opportunity to raise awareness, tackle stigma and drive improvements across Victoria’s public mental health sector.

“By complaining you are improving services not only for yourself but for others as well. If you are not being treated with respect, then it’s important to complain as this will improve the system and close that gap,” said Elvis Martin.

“There is a lot happening to support people from the LGBTQIA+ community but there are still a lot of gaps in the system, if you are not being respected or supported for who you are, you must complain. This will not only help you but the entire community.”

The MHCC can support consumers, carers and their family to make a complaint about public mental health services in Victoria. The MHCC’s services are free, and they can take complaints in any language. Our service is accessible for anyone with a hearing impairment, through the National Relay Service.

To make a complaint to the MHCC call 1800 246 054 or email help@mhcc.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 07 September 2022

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