Australian mental health services too focused on acute care, experts warn

Have you been affected by mental illness in Australia? Are you satisfied with the care you’ve received? What should the government focus on to improve the quality of mental health care? Please send up to 200 words to cif.australia@theguardian.com

I plan to write in but I also think that it is important to share my thoughts about this for those unfamiliar with our medical system. There is little to no long term government funded (or partially funded) mental health services here.

The mentally ill have no representation in parliament nor in any major healthcare institutes. What little funding we have is being stripped in the name of cost cutting. This means that there is no support for preventive care, minimal crisis support and no long term help options.

An example of this is that there are no government mental health hospitals for long term patient care. Some public hospitals have a crisis mental health wing that are notoriously bad. These however are for short term crisis admissions, not mid-long term treatment which is needed for many mental health concerns.

Many psychiatric medications are full cost with no government funding to make them affordable. There is also little to no support in educational institutes for mental health concerns. Most school in fact only have “support” through the christian groups, which is highly inappropriate for mental health care.

They are “fine tuning” the disability support system making everyone on it get reviewed. This is complicated by the fact you need the support of a medical professional to stay on the support system and often they are too costly to afford.The reviews are often subject to extreme stigma and bias against the mentally ill and individuals in need are being taken off the support system. These people are unable to work or support themselves in anyway so this is basically a death sentence for many.

It is also important not to forget the almost nonexistent support for indigenous communities. The support that is available often completely ignores the importance of the cultural differences in health care treatment. Also often the support that is available is only available under government mandate. Many individuals do not participate in this ineffective mandated therapy understandably. Rather than acknowledging this the government penalises indigenous individuals who are mentally ill with fines and criminal charges.

Instead of implementing measures to improve the state of mental health treatment in Australia, aiming towards preventive healthcare and long term treatment – it’s simply getting worse. This lack of appropriate care, support and representation is going to have long term repercussions for the health and wellbeing of our community.

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