Our series presents insights from the lives of four community change-makers, who have brought their lived experience to programs of co-design with us and our partners, to send a mental health sector reform on the right path.
Gladys Fraser lives in regional Victoria, and has found her involvement in the mental health reform agenda empowering. Having fought for many years to highlight the damage the mental health system was causing her family, she hopes that her work with Today on the Victorian Government’s mental health digital strategy will help others navigate a complex system to find the help they need.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Gladys Fraser. I live in a small, rural community. I have done so for 47 years.
I love music, movies, dancing, reading, walking, going to the mobile library, life drawing, water colours, singing in a rock choir, and Tai Chi. I love spending time with family and friends. I have lived a rich and enjoyable life while nurturing my children—Saffron, Lucy, Atlanta and Alexander—since 1977.
This life has been fractured by chemical restraint and seclusion of Alexander for the past four-and-a-half years. I have been a carer for 11-and-a-half years.
What does a brighter future look like to you?
I am so excited about what is happening within the mental health system with the reforms that are occurring through the recommendation of the Royal Commission. I feel so privileged to be part of this reform with the lived and living experience network.
In the future, treatment is going to be patient-oriented.
A vibrant, cooperative, and collaborative community where kindness, compassion and love exist will take care of our most vulnerable people: mental health patients who deserve to be respected and treated humanely. A basic human right. In the future they can thrive and live a functional life. They will no longer be excluded.
Right: Gladys Fraser photographed by J Forsyth, 2023
A vibrant, cooperative, and collaborative community where kindness, compassion and love exists will take care of our most vulnerable people: mental health patients who deserve to be respected and treated humanely.Gladys Fraser
How does strategic design help us get here?
Over the last four-and-a-half years my son, Alexander, and I have been forced to continue living with chemical restraint and seclusion because one man refused to listen. This man he doesn't practice values of co-design.
Co-design with patients, carers, peer supports, and lived and living experience is the only way to go. It will provide a better outcome for all concerned.
What is one thing you want the world to hear?
This is the cry of patients, carers, peer support workers, and the lived and living experience network: we aren't listened to.
With the work of so many interested and concerned parties, this is about to change. We have found our voice through this network and our peers have shared of their lived and living experience of sometimes 20 years or more. There is so much heartbreak in this network. It is humbling to be called a peer by these dedicated people, and to be allowed to contribute and share my experience.
My motivation for being part of the network is firstly to prevent my son from continuing to suffer on this treatment any longer. The driving force for being part of this reform is that I don't want any other patient and carer to endure what we have for the last four-and-a-half years.