UK con­cept could aid men­tal health care

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Taelor Pelusey

Ex­perts say a UK con­cept link­ing health and sup­port ser­vices could pave the way for more in­te­grated men­tal health care across re­gional WA as alarm­ing new sui­cide sta­tis­tics paint a bleak pic­ture ahead of Men­tal Health Week.

Data pub­lished by the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics last week shows 3128 Aus­tralians took their lives last year, mark­ing an al­most 10 per cent in­crease from 2016 to 2017.

Fig­ures also show sui­cide is now the lead­ing cause of death among peo­ple aged 15- 44, prompt­ing calls for an im­me­di­ate shake- up of the men­tal health sys­tem.

Among those ad­vo­cat­ing for change is Mar­garet River’s Lisa Chatwin, who lost her daugh­ter Tahlia Stoveld to sui­cide last May.

Ms Chatwin said she felt let down by the sys­tem and was dis­mayed by what she de­scribed as poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween or­gan­i­sa­tions and agen­cies, an un­will­ing­ness for ser­vices to lis­ten to fam­ily mem­bers who had ex­pe­ri­enced Ms Stoveld’s pre­vi­ous psy­chotic episodes, and a lack of State- funded psy­chi­atric beds.

“If they had just lis­tened to me, we wouldn’t be here,” she said.

“This has ir­repara­bly bro­ken me — I’m bro­ken.

“We all suf­fer in si­lence in our own way and this is why I have to push for change.”

Mur­doch Univer­sity men­tal health lec­turer Robert Bat­ters­bee be­lieved there was much good work hap­pen­ing in men­tal health but con­ceded the sys­tem was “frag­mented”, with ever- chang­ing fund­ing mod­els at State and Fed­eral lev­els ex­ac­er­bat­ing the is­sue.

He said the UK method of us­ing “link work­ers” — a men­tal health worker link­ing pri­mary and sec­ondary care ser­vices — could help.

It would not be with­out its hur­dles, with pri­mary care be­ing funded by the Fed­eral Govern­ment and sec­ondary by the State, but Mr Bat­ters­bee said it was al­ready oc­cur­ring in in­for­mal ways and a re­think of ex­ist­ing ser­vices could make it hap­pen with­out huge fi­nan­cial re­quire­ments.

■ If you or some­one you know is think­ing about sui­cide phone Life­line on 13 11 14.

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