Despite the efforts of many committed politicians, government officials, service providers and community advocates, we do not have a system of effective or accessible mental health care.
At all levels of government, within some of the professions and out in the wider community, there is a perception of general apathy, lack of accountability and lack of commitment to real change.
While public understanding of mental health has begun to improve, the wider community remains relatively ignorant of the service crisis.
Only when a family member needs care are they made aware of the gross deficits in care. People with mental disorders, and their families, feel frustrated and let down by the system.
Their goodwill, patience and support for the protracted nature of genuine health care reform have been dissipated.”
Are these the quotes from a recent report on Australia’s mental health system?
No! They are taken from the 2002 Mental Health Council’s review of the actions by Australian governments in the 10 years following the 1993 Burdekin Report.
In 1992, Australian health ministers committed their governments to correcting decades of neglect in mental health.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the Federal Government’s response to the findings of the National Mental Health Commission’s (NHMC) 2014 review.
The NMHC review, chaired by Professor Alan Fels, was conducted under terms of reference provided by the Federal Government.
From more than 2000 submissions, the NMHC made 25 recommendations covering nine strategic directions. Its 700-page review was handed to the government early this year for its consideration.
The NMHC believes the review provides a “strong, achievable and practicable plan for modernising and reforming Australia’s mental health system”.
Rather than implement reform, the government has turned the clock back 23 years and formed yet another committee (working group).
I am saddened and disappointed in the government’s reluctance to proceed with the NMHC’s recommendations and revert to a retrograde review system which has proved to be a failure.
Meanwhile, thousands of Australians with mental disorders, their families and friends are condemned to continued pain and suffering.
Every year during “Sock It To Suicide Week” (third week in October) we encourage everyone to wear bright coloured Socks/Stockings to their workplace, school etc and raise funds in support of White Wreath Association and help us combat our high suicide rate.
To help you can invite friends, family and colleagues to wear coloured socks or stockings and raise funds by creating an Online Fundraising Page through our Partners Everyday Hero.
This lets you email Facebook or Tweet regarding details of your activity and allows people who can’t come to still sponsor your important efforts.