The discussion around the approach to a redeveloped mental health hub at Albury’s hospital is such an important one.
Ms Robey said the facility was having to “routinely” release people because of a lack of beds and that the release of high-risk patients, like those who may have been referred by a court, came at some risk to the community.
Friends of Nolan House member Fred Ford supports Ms Robey’s concerns but has pointed out that a large part of the problem is that the facility is not an appropriate place for those who have been referred from the courts, particularly those who have been violent. He says the facility was never intended to be a place for patients with criminal issues, and that staff do not have the training or resources to handle them.
Those patients, Mr Ford says, need access to treatment, but it needs to be in a forensic mental health unit.
Our thinking when it comes to the treatment of mental health issues has come a long way since the dark days of asylums when we would lock people away to be forgotten. But we still have a long way to go.
The needs of patients seeking treatment with mental health issues differ, and not only is it not appropriate for them to be treated with a one size fits all approach, it just does not make any sense. We will not get the results we so need to get if we continue to treat these patients under one enormous umbrella with the label “mental health”.
Member for Albury Greg Aplin was right in responding to Ms Robey’s concerns that we don’t just need to upgrade Nolan House, we need to reconfigure and reimagine it. The estimated cost of a new facility has been put at up to $30 million. Mr Aplin is hopeful that funding could be included in this year’s state budget.
In the meantime, we need to be talking about this issue, and what is best for our community. We simply cannot afford to get it wrong.