An interview with Mark Smith – Director of Services

Paid Participant Advisory Opportunities for Mentis Assist Clients An interview with Mark Smith – Director of Services 

Mentis Assist believes their clients should be at the heart of everything to do with services that are about them. Today, they held a Participant Advisory Information Session to explain the Participants Advisory Group and opportunities for clients to be involved in important decisions about Mental Health Services. Director of Services Mark Smith shares his reflection on the day and provides some insights into PAG involvement for those who couldn’t attend.

Mentis: What was the purpose of today’s PAG information session?
Firstly, I was honoured to be able to talk with over 20 Mentis Assist service users and some of their support staff at the Benton square Mornington Community Rooms.

I spoke about our overall aim to have more “peer workers” within our workforce doing the regular paid support work alongside service users. I was encouraged by the enthusiastic questions and responses from the people in attendance, many of whom were already studying with a view to working in Mental health.

The aim of the meeting was to inform people of the opportunities for service users and other people with a lived experience of Mental health to get involved in various ways to assist Mentis Assist. We are looking for people to participate in (paid) ways through our Participant advisory group (PAG) to assist with systems and improve services.

Mentis: Who leads the PAG?
 Our Client Engagement Officer, Karen Ockleshaw, has been overseeing the PAG for many years now. Karen spoke today about the group and how it meets monthly to oversee some of the policies and directions the organisation is going. Karen has been a long term Mentis employee and a fantastic advocate for the peer voice at Mentis Assist and beyond.

Mentis: What are some of the activities the PAG are involved with at Mentis?
 Our Quality and Risk project office Debra Millist spoke to the group about assisting on the quality and LBGTQI groups and our Human resource office Cathy Campbell spoke of the opportunities for people with a lived experience to be on interview panels when Mentis Assist employ people. 

Mentis: So I hear PAG members are paid for their involvement, is that right?
Mark: Mentis Assist is offering training for these group members, and as previously mentioned, people will be paid $30 an hour for their time once they have been interviewed and assessed for the various roles.

Mentis: Any final comments?
All in all, a great afternoon and lunch of positive affirmation of people's individual recovery journeys. And hopefully, another potential avenue for people to get involved with and make a difference in the delivery of mental health services.