Letter to Jacinda Ardern

 Corinda Taylor

Congratulations on becoming the new Labour Prime Minister of NZ.
From one woman to another.

Would you be comfortable to let your loved one use the public system the way it is now?

Recently we saw you cry in public when a mother told her story about how the system failed her daughter who died by suicide. When you shared that tender moment with that mother did you feel her pain and did you realise the gravity of the broken mental health system?

Yesterday I heard how someone had to wait 12 months in the public system to get counselling. Another said the wait with ACC counselling is 6 months. Another couldn’t be admitted due to lack of beds only to be discharged without a plan or any support in place. Another, after an attempt, was admitted but discharged again without a plan or any support in place. Another was told they were not acute enough to be under mental health services because they didn’t have a mental illness. Another was not followed up. Another was told to go to emergency services when unwell and when they did that they were told that they were not unwell enough. They feel they were told to come back when they are serious enough about taking their own life. Some never come back again……. The above happened in a 24 hour period in my life when people inform the Life Matters Suicide Prevention Trust of how they struggle to navigate the mental health system that is designed to not only silence us but also keep us away from care. This is like a war zone in a third world country. We deserve better.

Jacinda, you have given assurance to the relatives of suicide victims that their voices will be heard when your government reviews mental health services when you are elected. Unfortunately you have never promised an inquiry unlike what some people may believe. There is a big difference between a review and an inquiry.

Our waiting lists for good care are huge and people are dying whilst waiting for care. A review will not give us the results we need and our people will continue to die unless you really listen to the voices of our currently 47,000 strong signature petition begging for an inquiry into mental health services.

Today I plead with you to do what is right for every New Zealander.

From one woman to another.

Warm regards
Corinda Taylor (mother of Ross Taylor who died by suicide after he was let down by the individuals in the mental health system).

Mental Health Inquiry

 My son, Ross Taylor took his own life after he asked mental health services for help three times in the last weeks before he died.

 Our family begged the services for help yet our grave concerns were dismissed and ignored.  Ross was only 20 years old and even though he was in the high-risk age and gender group his pleas for help were ignored. It is not surprising that New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate if people are treated like this.

No person should ever have to feel that suicide is their only option.

We need to provide better care.

Our mental health systems are failing our people and there are huge gaps. Despite our desperate and best efforts to ask for help from the services our pleas went unheeded. If my son was having a heart attack he would have received quality care however mental distress is often treated with less priority and with lack of empathy.

Please sign the petition for an urgent mental health inquiry for our new elected government to prioritize so that no person is turned away when in suicidal crisis.

We ask them to work together across all political parties and make the right decision for all New Zealanders.

I want an urgent inquiry into our mental health crisis so that no one else has to suffer like my son, Ross Taylor.

A mental health inquiry is needed so that we can see how many people are turned away from services, how many people have died by suicide after contact with services within 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 1 year. This inquiry needs to look at how many people have been discharged from services, often because they have missed their appointments due to being very unwell and then went on to take their own lives.

The public deserves to know how many people have simply been dropped from services or being told they don’t meet the criteria. None of the above information is gathered to identify what the problems are.

If we have this information we can make positive changes and lives will be saved.

The following to be implemented.

1.       Suicide prevention training for frontline staff to be mandated.
2.       DHB records to be electronic so that clinical information is readily available in a crisis.
3.       Zero suicide target in the health care system implemented.
4.       Increase primary health and GP funding.
5.       Commit to safe staffing.
6.       Independently investigate all serious adverse events (including attempts and self-inflicted deaths) of people who had contact with services up to 1 year after last contact.
7.       Independently investigate mental health services and give people with the lived experience an opportunity share how they and their families have been treated.
8.       Ensure that reporting of suicides by DHBs are mandated for up to a year and not voluntary for up to 28 days only.

Thanks very much for you support,

Corinda Taylor.

I lost my son

Corinda Taylor
I woke up this morning and reality hit me like a cold hard slap in the face.

I lost my son to suicide.

Not only did we lose our beautiful boy to suicide but we have kept relatively silent about it for four years. This is my first blog about the terrifying experience that no parent wants to have. I have kept silent because of the ongoing investigation into the care that my son, Ross Taylor, received at the hands of his psychiatrist and nurses.

This week the Mental Health Commissioner released his report after more than four long excruciating years after my son’s suicide.  The Southern District Health Board and the consultant psychiatrist Dr C  failed to provide services to Ross Taylor with reasonable care and skill and breached Right 4(1) of the Health and Disability Code. The independent psychiatrist who did the investigation for the commissioner stated that in her opinion the quality of clinical care that Ross received during the last three months of his life is a significant deviation from expected clinical standards. They have validated our complaint that the individuals concerned and the services failed our son.

This week our story also went public in New Zealand. We are extremely private people but felt compelled to speak up for the sake of current and future users of the mental health system.

I will be blogging regularly about our experience and how we were stonewalled repeatedly by the Southern District Health Board and clinicians before and after Ross died and how we battled to get positive changes to happen to ensure that nobody suffers a similar fate.

This week showed us who were prepared to support us to bring about positive changes. People from agencies have shown support for what they described and I quote “unethical conduct”, “neglect” and many more harder words that cannot be mentioned here. It has brought disgrace to the medical profession and tarred many good professionals with the same brush unfortunately. That was not our intention.

Some have said that they admired how I have channeled my energy into holding people accountable. I do not want admiration and I do not want sympathy. I want to see change.

I have been inundated with stories by many parents who have experienced similar tragedies and shared with me their pain and the battles to navigate a complicated mental health system. They also shared how families have been treated with such disdain and contempt with some trespassed or banned from services after trying to get the best care possible for their loved ones. I now realize that what happened to us is a common theme and only the tip of the iceberg. Let’s lance this sore and expose it for what it is.

Many have been unable to get fair investigations happen. They expressed support for our cause but stated that they did not have the strength to do what we did.

We would like to see more support for people and their families when in distress and we would also like to see good postvention support put in place. We have had no support offered to us by the Southern District Health Board during the four year investigation that would have paralyzed most people. This needs to change.

My hope is that our case has paved the way for many others to bring about change and hope. Nobody should have to beg services to help our loved ones in distress. Nobody should have to go to the lengths like we did to get a fair hearing to expose the truth.

Better systems, healthy communities and workplaces with committed health care professionals will result in safer and more effective outcomes with less people in crisis.

Corinda Taylor mother of Ross Taylor

Psychosis: Delusions

Corinda Taylor

Someone with first episode of phychosis can also have delusions.
Delusions are firmly held beliefs which are not based on reality or are a distorted version of reality.
For instance they believe they are God, or they are being plotted against, or they are under surveillance, or that they have a radio transmitter planted in the head, or that the TV is speaking them directly.
These beliefs are real… to the person experiencing them and may cause them to have strong feelings such as fear, anger, or elation.

Confused thinking
* Thoughts become confused, jumbled or nonsensical
* Thoughts may seem to speed up or slow down
* Person may have difficulty concentrating, speaking clearly or understanding a conversation, or remembering things
* Person may have difficulty understanding the intentions of others in social situations

Changed feelings
* Unexplained mood swings
* Overexcited, depressed or anxious
* Hard to feel emotion – numb and shut out

Changed behaviour
* More active and impulsive than usual
* Less active – sit around all day, sleep a lot
* Laugh or become upset at no apparent reason

Remember, this too will pass with good help and support.