Recent media coverage on alcohol-fueled violence and the response by various governments to introduce tough new laws is once again misleading public to the real cause – mental illness.

The person who king-hit, cowardly punched and killed a young boy in NSW has a long history of violence with serious mental health problems; in and out of jail.

Port Arthur killer Martin Bryant had a long history of serious mental health issues. The Federal Government response was to target guns.

These are just two examples that many people would be aware of where the underlying issue of mental health neglect has been brushed under the carpet by our political masters.

Governments of all political persuasions take the populist route of trotting out the “law and order banner” to appease their own guilty consciences over the decades-long lack of providing adequate mental health treatment and facilities.

And the problem is only getting worse! A case in point is the findings by the National Youth Mental Health Foundation that young people cannot obtain timely treatment or they have difficulty finding a service than can respond to their needs

With the shut down of mental health institutions Australia-wide, people are literally left to fend for themselves with dire consequences.

Governments have embarked on a deliberate policy to close public psychiatric hospitals and integrate specialist psychiatric services with public acute care services.

This has resulted in people being left to fend for themselves. Statistics show that only 50 per cent of people with the most severe mental health problems receive professional help.

Governments are only paying lip-service to the problem of mental illnesses. Despite being in office for more than six months, the Abbott Government has yet to introduce any significant mental health initiatives. Mental health has rarely been mentioned since it took office.

Promoting public awareness on suicide and mental health illnesses and removing the unfounded myths and stigmas often associated with suicide are part of the aims of the White Wreath Association.

Wear white at work’  – on 29 May – is one of the events held annually by White Wreath to raise money to fund our advocacy, assistance and support programs for families and individuals who have been affected by mental health or suicide.

People are encouraged to wear white clothing to work and donate a gold coin to show their support for mental health illness sufferers and families of suicide victims. To find out how you can get your workplace involved, please call us on 1300 766 177

Fanita Clark