Liz shares her lived experience
When Liz Pendrey decided to return to the workforce, she thought her only qualifications were ‘life’ and raising three children. But she also had a unique perspective of local mental health services having tried and failed to access care for a family member diagnosed with autism, ADHD and anxiety.
Liz has had her own challenges with mental health so when a position to become a lived experience worker with our mental health service became available, she seized the opportunity to put a spotlight on gaps in the system and bring some solutions to the table.
Liz is one of nine consumer and carer support workers based at our community mental health sites in Wonthaggi, Sale, Bairnsdale, Warragul and Traralgon.
“I guess it’s being able to provide that mutuality to someone else going through similar things. Going through depression and after having my youngest and the birth trauma I experienced with her, I really felt like no one understood. I got those typical sayings of, ‘oh, you are really lucky to have healthy children’, or ‘it could have been a lot worse’, or ‘life really isn’t that bad’.
“At the time I just needed someone to go ‘yeah, it’s hard sometimes’. I needed someone to understand what it was like. Being able to provide that to someone else really gives me a sense of purpose,” Liz said.
Liz, who describes herself as a ‘problem-solver’ is relishing her new role with the lived experience team. While LRH has been recruiting lived experience workers to the mental health service for many years, the role is becoming more widely accepted across Victoria.
“I definitely see the role of lived experience workers expanding. Our role with communicating with case managers and clinicians is really important. The clinicians are the experts and we are the voices for our peers.”