Mental health crisis: How we can help sufferers

 

Hearing directly from those experiencing mental ill health is crucial in designing solutions to the national crisis, experts have told News Corp Australia's Mental Health 360 investigation.

And the most valuable change would be a new system of care co-ordinators to help people with complex mental illness with navigate the health, welfare, education and employment and housing systems so they don't fall through the cracks.

Mental health screening needs to start from birth and first time parents should be assessed and offered help.

"Offer support for parenting. The offspring of first time young parents are grossly over represented in every mental health statistic," child psychiatrist Professor Jon Jureidini said

Mental Health 360 panellists Ian Hickie, Sue Dunlevy, Melinda Schneider, Peter Stefanovic and Chris Turton. Picture: Toby Zerna
Mental Health 360 panellists Ian Hickie, Sue Dunlevy, Melinda Schneider, Peter Stefanovic and Chris Turton. Picture: Toby Zerna

Sydney University's Brain and Mind Centre policy co-director Professor Ian Hickie is calling for an $800 million national after-care program that follows up people who attempt to take their own life.

"Having a clear vision of regionality - not just see state averages - is the key to improving suicide prevention in this country," Prof Hickie said.

Orygen executive director and 2010 Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry believes there needs to be an expansion of the Headspace Youth Early Psychosis Program from six to 30 sites nationally, costing about $600m.

"Every community needs a specialised backup system for the missing middle, which is those patients who are too complex for headspace or primary care," he said.

 

 

The government must invest in a 10 year strategy to reduce stigma associated with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, personality disorder, bipolar and PTSD, Sane Australia said.

"It's really critical that people with lived experience of complex mental health issues, play a really central role" in designing solutions, Sane Australia's Michelle Blanchard said.

She's also calling for Medicare rebates for psychologists to be boosted.

"Some people can be up to about $125 out of pocket for a session of psychological support and over 10 sessions we're looking at out of pocket expenses in excess of $1,200 (often for someone on minimal income support)," she said.

 

Mental Health 360’s co-hosts Sue Dunlevy and Peter Stefanovic. Picture: Toby Zerna
Mental Health 360’s co-hosts Sue Dunlevy and Peter Stefanovic. Picture: Toby Zerna

 

More social housing is needed so people are not discharged from hospital into homelessness and because housing security is crucial to mental health, Professor Jureidini.

The Productivity Commission said teachers should be given special training in identifying and dealing with mental conditions and schools should have a role in referring children for help.

And to prevent suicide it wants frontline compassion training is needed for workers in agencies like Centrelink and the tax office and in the private sector where people provide financial, employment and relationship support to people experiencing distress, suicide prevention advisers said.

 

 

The College of Emergency Medicine says we need 24 hour community based mental health centres so people experiencing crisis do not have to go to hospital Emergency Departments.

More alcohol and other drug programs are needed especially where people seek help for relationship, financial and workplace stresses, the college said.

There must be action to reduce the seclusion and restraint of people with a mental illness in the hospital system and they must not be discharged before they are ready, Sane Australia said.

Community based services offering sport, arts and life skill support need to be re-established after they lost funding when the NDIS was introduced.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Mental health crisis: How we can help sufferers



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