Director’s Report December 2015 – Mental Health Representation in the Media
I am deeply disturbed on advice given to governments and the media laid down in Mindframe guidelines on how they report suicide/mental illness.
The Mindframe guidelines are managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and funded by the Australian Government under the National Suicide Prevention Program. (See link below).
In recent years extensive coverage has been given in the mass media and by governments to domestic violence, paedoplilia and child abuse.
In White Wreaths opinion all of this comes under mental health, of which there is never a mention.
Untreated mental health brings us to suicide/violence and murder and this is exactly what is happening right now.
The Australian Institute of Criminology says that mental health and the criminal justice system are intertwined. It says mental disorders in prison populations are up to five times those in the general population. The Institute says a strong link exists between illicit drugs and mental health problems.
With the closure of mental health facilities throughout Australia and increased so-called community care, people literally cannot access any help except for jails.
This business of just talking to a person and telling them the sky is blue, the grass is green and you will be right mate is absolutely ridiculous and has been going on for many years.
A person with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, low blood pressure, high blood pressure and any other life threatening condition would not be told the same thing to go on their merry way and all will be right
The heavy bombardment from government and the mass media regarding these issues makes it impossible for us to change people’s minds/attitudes.
They have already been trained on how to think, but I believe it is vital that that we provide the public with the facts.
When anyone contacts White Wreath the very first questions we ask are about family history.
The most acceptable term still today is “Nervous Breakdown” and we ask if they know of this within immediate and distant family (could be that grandparents, great aunts, uncles, cousins) have had a Nervous Breakdown).
We then ask has anyone within the family touched base with mental health.
Have any family members attempted suicide. Does anyone self-harm. Is anyone on anti-depressant with many more questions after this. In all cases the answer is “Yes” We then try to help them get into hospital as this is where White Wreath strongly believes they should be to be treated and monitored under specialised medical care and to be treated in the same fashion as any other life threatening illness. This is why White Wreath Safehavens are of the utmost importance.
Following the Lindt Cafe siege the government and media went along with the lines of terrorist because his name and the way he dressed was Islamic, but he had a history of serious mental health problems, killed his wife etc.
We had Martin Bryant who killed 35 people randomly whom had serious mental health problems from a very early age.
We had the Hoddle Street killings and he also had serious mental health problems.
What is to happen next will be another mass killing, Do we want an American mass killing where innocent people are lost purely and simply because of the shutdown of our mental health system whereby people are placed in community care.
Basically what that means is they are on their own to care for themselves.
By law families are unable to help them. Nobody will take into consideration the families knowledge and opinion and work together as a team.
I am in despair that the situation will change and that the “people in power” will recognise the need to take mental health seriously and make much-needed changes.
We “Thank” all those that have supported us through fund-raising efforts present and past. Hopefully 2016 will bring us closer to White Wreaths’ main aim.
We wish you, your family and friends a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New year.
Our thoughts are with those trying to find help for family members whose loved ones have mental health problems through the gross deficits of our Mental Health System and to all those that have lost loved ones, friends work colleagues by tragic means. Our thoughts are with you all and I am one of those myself who lost a son.