News

Mental health meltdown

GLADSTONE is sadly lacking in mental health services, largely due to bureaucracy.

General practitioner John Bird said the concentration of mental health services was in cities, despite higher rates of mental illness and suicide occurring in rural and regional centres.

"(In Gladstone) we don't have an independent service that can step up in it's own right," he said.

"We often see patients who can't adequately be cared for by their GPs moved to the emergency department at a date when they've hit a crisis point."

In this sense, the issue becomes the responsibility of both state and federal politics.

Funding for hospitals derives from a state and federal level, management of hospitals falls under state legislation and Medicare under Federal.

State MP Glenn Butcher and Federal MP Ken O'Dowd admit they have each been affected, however distantly, by issues of mental health.

Despite this, both continue to shift the blame between each other, while claiming they are succeeding in delivering services.

Mr Butcher said he was focused on improving services, although his efforts may be compromised by federal funding slashes.

"I am very worried about the $574 million the Abbott government is planning to cut from our local area's health funding. Federal health cuts make it very hard to expand mental health support," he said.

"This is an important service which will continue. However there are a wider group that need improved support from Medicare to access support and psychological services as released in the (recent) national Mental Health Commission Review of Services."

The comments come as Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley announced a national reform for mental health services.

"Commonwealth funding for public health services has increased by 9% this year and will increase by 9% next year and the year after as well," a spokesperson for Ken O'Dowd said.

At the beginning of April, The Observer revealed 56 suicides had occurred in Gladstone over the past three years.

Helen Treseder is another Gladstone local who is fed up with a lack of services, and the tendency of governments to shift responsibility.

She is organising a free public consultation meeting to invite opinion about mental health services in Gladstone. Two open meetings will be held at Shed 19 on April 29 at 1.30pm and 6.30pm. RSVP to helen _tres@outlook.com.

Topics:  mental health, services



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