More people sent to care instead of prison

COURT and custodial staff sent 170 central Queensland mental health patients to the region's hospitals last financial year - a rise of almost a quarter on the previous year.

Queensland Director of Mental Health William Kingswell's annual parliamentary report reveals involuntary patients at the Central Queensland Network Authorised Mental Health Service rose from 137 in 2012-13.

Courts or custodial officers handed out 106 involuntary treatment orders - down 21 on the previous year.

There were 26 forensic order patients - people detained in an authorised mental health service or high-security unit for care - and 60 patients charged with a criminal offence.

Patients in Gladstone are treated at Gladstone Community Mental Health Service, at the city's hospital, which forms part of the Central Queensland Network.

Dr Kingswell said regional patients were doing it tough compared to city residents because many mental health professionals did not want to leave metropolitan areas.

"What you have in a lot of rural and regional Queensland is market failure," he said.

"So you don't have a well-developed primary care sector or a well-developed private psychiatry sector that you would see in an urban area.

"It's just really difficult to get private practitioners to move out of the postcode that ends in triple zero."

Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland president Tony Stevenson said getting services right at the community level would lower the number of interventions.

"It does help prevent crisis developing if people are maintaining their medication and they're connected well into the community, and the people they are connected with are able to recognise the changes and behaviour and try to get some more intensive support at that right time," Mr Stevenson said.

- APN NEWSDESK



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