Dec 4, 2012

U-turn: time for a new model of mental health care

Why does mental health reform focus on palliative, as opposed to preventive, health care treatment? Emily Rose says we need a new model of care.

The federal government knows its approach to mental health should focus on promoting sound mental health and preventing problems -- not just what amounts to palliative care. So why are the changes so slow in coming, and how can we learn to take a more visionary approach to mental health reform?

Twelve years ago, the government prioritised promotion and prevention principles in addressing mental health. The government identified a number of areas in need of repair, including better access to services in rural and remote communities, improved detection and treatment of psychosis, and enhanced mental health literacy in the general community.

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2 thoughts on “U-turn: time for a new model of mental health care

  1. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    As a person with 14 years experience of mental illness – and a psychology degree I got in my 20s before the illness struck, my question is – which preventative measures are there that actually show some solid evidence that they work? And I’m asking for some studies that show causation rather than just correlation.
    Unfortunately most of what is reported in the media seem to be correlation studies, and psychological treatments seem to follow suit – ‘sleep hygiene’ being one treatment which I found particularly torturous.
    Counselling has it’s place but I think I’ll stick with medication and hospitalisation over some of the rubbish that is pedalled as preventative care.

  2. Jessica Stewart

    Thank you for these words. The limitations of the system are etched on my family’s hearts. We’ve been running uphill in sand trying to overcome its gaps and neglect which ended in the death of my brother earlier this year.

    Our system failed him by not linking him back to his family and his community. It treated him as a bag of chemicals, prescribing him drugs that sometimes actively worked against each other. It failed to see him as a human being with multiple conditions. His paltry pyschological care was weak and he saw no merit in it.

    As you say, the roadmap for a good mental health service must look at physical health, employment and social inclusion, all elements faced by my brother.

    Preventive measures are essential and must work in tandem with intensive treatment, post-trauma. After a suicide attempt, labelled by the doctors as ‘serious’, my brother was released after just 36 hours. Would they have released a heart condition patient?

    For the next seven years, we played a game of watching, waiting, and supporting but we were shut out of his care, despite him living with my parents. The ‘privacy’ of an obviously sick man was deemed more important than using all care, all resources at hand to make him better. He was given neither care in a hospital setting, nor assistance at home.

    In contrast, a friend whose father was hospitalised in Denmark after a suicide attempt was kept in care for seven months while he recovered, exercising, eating well, given different therapies, including some medication but also intensive ‘talk therapy’. After four months, he was allowed to make weekend visits to his family. He is still alive, while my brother is dead.

    We need to do better.

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