Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

Early intervention for mental illness

According to an Australian Government division Mindframe, mental illness affects one in five Australians each year.

While public awareness has risen considerably, political party awareness could be reflected in more funding.

Nambour Hospital is the largest public health facility on the Sunshine Coast. According to Head wardsman Anthony Brooke the hospital is over-populated with patients from both the medical and psychiatric units, with staff unable to provide adequate duty of care due to constant patient turnover.

Mental health patients need more hospital beds. Source: Olivia Noakes

Mental health patients need more hospital beds. Source: Olivia Noakes

Aside from the recent controversy over the faulty payroll system and lack of beds in Nambour, continued staff shortages are a concern, especially in the mental health sector.

Mr Brooke said the system had a high turnover, but the government’s medical and welfare sectors needed to collaborate.

“Some people are clogging up the system, they run out of money, they head out drugged up or intoxicated, get in trouble from the police and they tell the police to take them to the Nambour Psychiatric ward and then they’ll stay in the hospital until their next Centrelink payment comes in and then they go out and repeat the process,” Mr Brooke said.

“Some drug users come in with their groceries expecting free accommodation for two weeks and as a public service we’re obligated to provide duty of care and therefore many legit cases can’t adequately move through the system. 

 “It costs taxpayers $1000 a day to keep one patient in hospital and often we have to mix patients in different wards which is not safe for both staff and other patients in the hospital, so welfare and medical sectors need to have a long conversation,” he said.

Opposition spokesman Mark Mcardle said while hospitalisation was an important factor in the treatment of the mentally ill, there is a need to provide more early intervention.

“Queensland health focuses predominantly on the acute end that is hospitalisation. We need to start focusing on the subject at hand and applying early intervention methods,” Mr Mcardle said.

“The majority of people between the ages of 16-24 is the age group that develop the mental illness that carries them through to acute illness, therefore, we need to shift funds back into the community so young people can actually get treatment in their own environment,” he said.

The Integrated Family and Youth Service is an extension of Disability Services Queensland, providing care in the home for those who suffer from either disabilities or mental illness.

Team leader and employee Marie Hayes said care must be followed up in the home.

“Many patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals are highly distressed, disabled and at risk of suicide. Once treated they require follow-up care from psychiatrists, GPs and publicly funded agencies to ease the burden on families,” Mrs Hayes said.

“As hospital admissions are usually very short the State Government must do more to focus on early intervention and pay more attention to those released from hospital suffering an ongoing mental illness as they can be of harm to society,” she said.

Mental health affects anyone and everyone and is an issue that will continue to place a burden on government, agencies, carers, families and those personally afflicted.