Men­tal health

Nelson Mail - - COMMENT&OPINION -

The head­line (Oct. 11th) over your lead­ing article con­cern­ing men­tal health reads ‘‘A week for true aware­ness’’ - but the whole article is ex­clu­sively about de­pres­sion and sui­cide. If you were ‘‘truly aware’’, you would know that well over half of sui­cide vic­tims suf­fer from schizophre­nia. Don’t they count? We must clearly dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the sev­eral men­tal ill­nesses, sim­ply be­cause each ill­ness calls for dif­fer­ent treat­ment.

If you are suf­fer­ing from an en­doge­nous de­pres­sion (e.g. bipo­lar) you of­ten present a med­i­cal emer­gency, in as much that some cases need 24/7 ob­ser­va­tion. Since the clo­sure of des­ig­nated men­tal hos­pi­tals we no longer have suf­fi­cient psy­chi­atric, in-pa­tient beds to de­liver such ser­vice. Be­fore 1992 a de­pressed per­son could, and very of­ten did, go to the near­est men­tal hos­pi­tal where they would be given a bed im­me­di­ately. Nurs­ing staff were au­tho­rised to ad­mit such per­son, even in the mid­dle of the night.

The changed pub­lic at­ti­tude to schizophre­nia caused the clo­sure of men­tal in­sti­tu­tions in the 1990s. An un­in­tended con­se­quence of that was that if you are de­pressed, you are sim­ply un­able to ob­tain the pro­tec­tion and care needed to as­sist you fight­ing your sui­ci­dal thoughts - or just sim­ply hav­ing a few days alone, with­out pres­sure, in a hos­pi­tal set­ting. More psy­chi­atric in-pa­tient beds would also greatly ben­e­fit our schiz­o­phrenic pop­u­la­tion.

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