Too many cuts
The Royal Commission into mental health services is long overdue. To echo the thoughts of the esteemed and highly respected psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry. “I hope it is bipartisan”, as I seriously doubt that the inept Andrews government will be in situ come November 24.
As a front line clinician I often feel embarrassed when dealing with my clients and particularly those and their families that are in crisis presentation. I feel clinically inept when I shouldn't and have no reason to do so. Resources around mental health are limited and at times amateurish and being cut back further all for the bottom line, creating a merry-go-round for the client and their loved ones. We don't treat patients with other critical health issues such as cancer and cardiac concerns with such amateurish efforts, so why then apply it to persons experiencing mental health issues.
As for suicide intervention and prevention that is another story of neglect that needs to be drawn into the Royal Commission. Deinstitutionalisation has not worked. The old “asylums” closed, the land sold off at great profit to the government of the day. The bottom line further enhanced by the fact the administrators did not have to pay the ongoing wages plus benefits of 400-plus auxillary staff that worked at these “asylums”. Yet we deal with a steady demographic that at an acute level is escalating with a greatly reduced budget.
Secondly, people living rough and on the street are battling comorbidities such as mental health issues and ice addiction and yet limited to no resources in this area.
The winners from the Royal Commission will most importantly be the person in need and their family and ultimately the community and our conscience.
Tony Boyd, Wodonga (registered psychiatric nurse, Masters degree in Suicidology)
An opportunity missed
At the Drought Summit the Prime Minister made an announcement which included a $15.3 million mental health package, most money which could stay in the government’s pocket had government made good decisions in the first place.
For irrigation communities, poor government policy is a major cause of mental health issues. The lack of vision for long-term water security shows that the government is totally out of touch with the needs of rural Australia. Currently the government is spending $13 billion to remove water from the very regions which were established to drought proof the country. Now they are spending $5 billion to make rural communities and farmers more resilient. Right now the Murray Valley in NSW is in a manmade drought, with water in storages yet farmers on zero allocation – a major source of stress emotionally, financially and mentally.
The mental health of farmers across the southern basin would have been improved if the government would spend some of the $5 billion on projects in South Australia to improve the management of the Coorong and Lower Lakes. Instead of watching the Murray River run a banker at many places, Murray farmers could be producing food for the country, rather than stuck on zero per cent and becoming part of the problem.
The Drought Summit has missed a golden opportunity. Rural messages are not getting through and it is time to get voices into Canberra who will represent the grass roots and will be listened to.