MEET GUS

Gus is a 21-year-old young man who has struggled with mental health issues from a very young age.

Through meeting short-term, achievable goals, Gus felt a sense of pride and accomplishment, and could reside independently with Taldumande.

Gus is a 21-year-old young man who has struggled with mental health issues from a very young age. Gus was first diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of five and subsequently commenced a series of psychotropic medications. During later assessments, Gus was also diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Substance Use Disorder. Due to significant difficulties at school and falling victim to constant bullying, Gus turned to illicit substances
and self-harm to cope.

Gus was placed under the care of FACS at the age of 14 due to an escalation of his violent behaviour and ongoing drug abuse. Gus completed two court-ordered rehabilitation programs for alcohol and drug misuse. Despite many attempts to regain control over his addictions and social deviance, Gus struggled. He was involved in several treatments of Paranoid Schizophrenia and Drug-Induced Psychosis. Due to limited support, Gus became homeless, constantly moving between various hospitals and crisis refuges until he found Taldumande.

Gus previously had regular support from his mother Jackie, who resided an hour and a half away. Together they spoke regularly and generally had a good, positive relationship. During Gus’s time with Taldumande, Jackie decreased contact with her son due to her own mental health issues; she had stated, “it takes its toll having a complicated child”.

A Family Support Trust was set up for Gus, which was regulated by his mother for financial support.This money went towards paying for weekly rent, groceries, and travel expenses.

Initially, Gus had poor planning and problem-solving abilities. His living skills needed a lot of development, including maintenance of personal hygiene, cleaning, and cooking skills. Gus was disorganised and had trouble recalling places where he had left things. Gus’s previous psychological assessments indicated that in terms of general intellectual ability, he functioned within the low to average range at a level that is better than or equal to approximately 19 per cent of his peers. At times Gus appeared childlike, verbalising statements literally.

Gus transitioned to one of Taldumande’s Lower North Shore single-bedroom units allocated for young people who live with complex mental health issues. Gus struggled with anxiety and had very poor social skills, limiting his ability to perform everyday tasks and live independently. During his last psychiatric inpatient stay, Gus connected with Assertive Outreach (AO), a service which provided him with intensive support to help his recovery process. AO travelled to Gus’s unit daily, providing medication and routine check-ups in a safe and familiar space. Staying out of hospital was always Gus’s most important goal. He did not enjoy time spent in locked wards continually stating that it feels “prison-like” and “harsh”. The Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) required Gus to engage in 30 contact hours per week with Taldumande, AO and HASI. To maintain independent living, Gus needed to take on certain responsibilities including taking his medication effectively, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and actively engaging with the appropriate services. Maintaining engagement meant living independently was possible.

Through meeting short-term, achievable goals, Gus felt a sense of pride and accomplishment, and could reside independently with Taldumande. These achievements boosted Gus’s self-esteem and his general attitude and behaviour significantly improved. His living skills were enhanced with the assistance of weekly visits from the HASI team and through case management support with Taldumande’s Case Manager. Gus even began to
cook his favourite meal for his mother’s weekly visit.

Gus felt settled in his new environment, actively practicing self-management techniques such as personalised breathing exercises and becoming engaged with a community meditation group. Gus also began attending a local youth centre, where he could begin the process of dealing with his social anxiety by successfully making new friends with peers of a similar age and interest.

Gus resided here for 18 months, where he received intensive one-on-one case management support from Taldumande. Taldumande took steps to assist with Gus’s application for Priority Housing; a longer-term, more permanent solution.

In May 2017, Gus was approved for Priority Housing and transitioned smoothly with the assistance of all his support networks. Gus was overjoyed and expressed much gratitude to Taldumande. Today, Gus is now able to continue to work on his longer-term goals and successfully manages in an environment he can now call home.

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