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Mental health challenge requires significant attention and research

Ian Jacobs and Michael Spence write in The Conversation (13.11.15):

‘We are making progress in understanding some of the most elusive and debilitating conditions of modern times – the mental illnesses that account for almost a quarter of the health-related disability worldwide’.

However: ‘Every ten minutes, an Australian attempts suicide; there are close to seven deaths by suicide every day. Suicide is the leading cause of death for 15 to 44 year olds.’ They note that ‘The young brain is also bein challenged by new technologies and we need to understand this better’.

It’s rare to be able to tell the truth – here’s what’s wrong with Australia’s mental health system

Dr Adrian Plaskitt comments in The Guardian (26.4.21) on the shortcomings in Australia’s health system when it comes to providing mental health services.

‘During my career there has been a general reduction in service for the severely mentally ill, while the provision of service for mild illness has probably improved. General awareness of mental health has improved, but it is increasingly defined as an illness that effects an individual, which may obscure some societal drivers of mental illness – but I’ll come to that later.

‘At the beginning of my GP career there was a local mental health service that would do outreach for severely ill people. I could make a call to a clinician that I had a relationship with and together we could, if necessary, organise a psychiatry registrar, an ambulance and a police officer to attend a person’s home and make decisions about the best course of action, which might involve an involuntary admission if needed.

‘These days I have no direct way of contacting the local mental health team – instead, there is a statewide 1800 number, and the problem is allocated by an “intake manager”. The decisions about scheduling people involuntarily are essentially outsourced to the police. It should not be their job. There is no community outreach service, so people tend to get further into a crisis until someone calls the police and then they go to hospital. I imagine this service is far cheaper to run, but it means problems are more likely to get out of control before they are dealt with.’

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