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Emma's Story

“The facilities make you feel like you’re worthless. It makes me feel like my mental health issues are in some way my fault.”

Emma* is proud of where she is today.  She’s bright, funny, engaging, exceptionally articulate and about to embark on tertiary study.  But her journey hasn’t been easy. 

“Without mental health services I would not be where I am today,” says Emma.

Emma has experienced first-hand Canterbury’s mental health services and in particular, the facilities at the Child, Adolescent and Family outpatient service.  With help she has learnt to manage her ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder, and the depression, anxiety and self-harm it triggered.

Her mental health journey is not something she wants to feel ashamed of.

“I face stigma on a daily basis because I choose not to hide my scars.  I don’t believe people should have to hide mental health issues.”

But Emma says in some ways, the state of some of our mental health outpatient facilities makes her feel that stigma is warranted.

“You’ve got mental health services for children on the site of an abandoned hospital – doesn’t that just sound like a horror movie!  The CAF team have done their best to make it more friendly but it’s hard to get past the general feeling of the place…it seems intimidating and hostile.  And you have little kids in waiting rooms with teenagers who may be distressed.  I remember how scared I felt when I went to CAF for the first time.  I can’t imagine what it would be like for a little kid.

“And you know what all of this makes me feel like as a patient? It makes me feel like I should be ashamed, that I have something to be ashamed of. It makes me feel like my mental health issues are in some way my fault. It makes me feel like my difficulties are not valid.”

Emma credits the CAF team with helping her get to where she is today.  She now wants to pay that forward, helping create a brighter future for the service.

“I want to see an outpatient facility that is bright, colourful and welcoming.  Mental health is so important I think it would be great if the facilities and the environment in which people go to get treatment match how important it is.

“Children treated early and well can live lives without mental health issues as productive, happy members of society. I am an example of that. We have to change the way we view and treat mental health. So let’s start small and fund some facilities that shine an ever so important light on mental health and support children and young people back to wellness.”

*To protect her privacy this young person’s name has been changed.

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