“I’m from MHARS” the caseworkers from the mental health care facility would often say to get a laugh. Yes, MHARS – Mental Health Accommodation Rehabilitation Service in the little Northern Rivers town of Lismore in the state of New South Wales in Australia. Of course what others hear is “mars” – the place where one might describe those as being one sandwich short of a picnic basket might come from. My partner Michael loved using that line, though he may have said it once too often at the psychiatric ward of the hospital when he’d bring patients there. The staff at MHARS enjoyed their work, had a great spirit of camaraderie with each other and were dedicated to the care of and improving the lives of their clients.
However, all good things must come to an end, and with changes to how the organisation was run, a darker side crept in. These changes saw staff begin to leave the organisation. Michael stuck on for a couple of years, but he too had decided enough was enough and was about to leave the organisation, declaring that whilst he loved his job, the management of the organisation that had taken over MHARS had begun to introduce a degree of stress that was becoming intolerable.
The following is an account of what appears to be a need for adulation by one person in this new organisation, which eventually cost my partner, Michael his life. It is an account from multiple sources that shines the light on how the need for self-promotion by an apparent narcissistic personality, became the focus of running a Mental Health non-government organisation (NGO). It is a story where it would seem those with a mental health disability were used as a means to acquire government funding – they were a means to an end rather than an end itself.