Thursday, August 22, 2013

key non-boat issue #1 - mental health

Warning you up front that this is a highly subjective post, here's my take on just one of the many election non-issues that makes me mad:

I've not read the recently released Obsessive Hope Disorder –a report into 30 years of Mental Health policies.
I know, I know… if I want to crap on about this topic I should read it first but, well, as an older fart in a stuffed economy I'm reluctant to shell out $66 for the lower-priced e-version – there are cheaper ways for me to induce sleep only to wake up feeling crappy. The summary version of the report [7 pdf pages] highlights the following:

In The Age [20 Aug] Prof McGorry argues:

"Australia has made important progress in the past 30 years, but that momentum has died. The main changes have been closing asylums and bringing the treatment of mental illness into the mainstream health system…

We have replaced the 19th Century models of care with a seriously under-done, under-funded and actually quite stagnant first pass at mainstreaming mental health care…"

From the Liberal Party's Brochure Plan:

All this EPPIC / headspace stuff sounds new, doesn't it?
What's it mean anyway?

What it means is set out on the current government's Department of Health and Aging Website and dated May 2013:

"The successful headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation will deliver the last remaining element of the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion national mental health reform plan – early psychosis youth services (EPPIC).
to deliver nine early psychosis youth services across all states and territories…
Initially, four ‘hubs’ will be established, building to nine over a three year period, with at least one located in each state and territory. The initial four sites will be located in: western Sydney; south-east Melbourne; western Adelaide; and north-east Perth, with two to be up and running by 1 July. [the rest within 3 years]

“These sites will act as service ‘hubs'
24 hour home based care and assessment; community education and awareness programs; easy access to acute and sub-acute services; continuing care case management; mobile outreach; medical and psychological interventions; functional recovery, group, family and peer support programs; workforce development; and youth participation."

The Liberal policy continues:"better employment opportunities to those with serious mental health issues…"

Deranged laughter is better than none; I'm sure it still produces enough dolphins to elevate my spirits.

Last year, my shrink filled out a form stating I have a mental illness. Some Sennalink employee - who did not bother to let me know if she had any qualifications or what they might be – deemed I would be able to work at least 15 hours per week. [If only I could find 15 hours guaranteed work per week.]

Why am I cynical about the Sennalink assessment of my mental illness? The earlier experience of an in-law told me all I need to know:

Let me be blunt, the guy stands weird, thinks weird, behaves weird and does weird. He can't drive, but as a passenger in a car he is the world's best GPS. Go down the side of a side road off a minor road off a major road anywhere in Victoria and he'll not only know the name of the road, but how to get there, how to get back from there, it's name, when it was named and how the name was chosen.
"You couldn't possibly have Asperger's", concluded a Sennalink employee, "you have no trouble at all looking me in the eye."

However, as TO was not yet last year officially an OAP but was [and still is] bringing home the bacon, there were only two reasons for subjecting myself to this humiliation:
- to get a health care card of the Newstart variety
- to only be required to turn up at one of those ridiculous police state-shuns employment services twice a week to keep my card.

The HCC saves me a bucket on non-PBS prescriptions.

I cannot tell a lie; I was deliberately working the system. To be honest, though, having someone semi-literate "fix" my CV while saying for the 5 millionth time "anyone can get a job if they really want one" probably wouldn't inspire confidence in many long-term unemployed people.

[I don't know where she's working now that the service she worked for has lost it's contract, but I'm sure she quickly got a good job because her attitude is so positive.
Karma's only a bitch if you are one.]

I wasn't applying for a disability pension; no one in their right mind could afford to / would voluntarily become a "bludger".

The blogosphere is awash with stories of how parents and children deal with Aspergers in the context of education

I do still have regular meltdowns [less severe now that I've finally got some help] but I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by extraordinarily caring and supportive people at home.

This post is certainly not all about me:

·         What about the many varieties of dementia?
·         What about those who are homeless as a result of mental illness [now that we've closed all of those inhumane asylums].
·         What about those who are born with or acquire a brain injury?
·         What about the families who suffer violence at the hands of children /siblings during psychotic episodes?
·         What about the social problems caused by those with mental illness who "self-medicate"?

I could go on … as some of you may have noticed… but the whole thing is too sickening.

Perhaps this example of a single amalgamated job description says it all:

The Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Minister for Social Inclusion, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform, Minister for Housing and Homelessness


  1. "Karma's only a bitch if you are one". Can I quote you on that? :)

    1. Feel free, Andrew, but don't blame me :) It's a long time since I had a very original thought.