To give a bit of a background, the WA Premier, along with the state and territory leaders around Australia, will be sitting down on Monday to discuss health reform in Australia. With the talk of health reform, mental health reform has been neglected. Professor Patrick McGorry, psychiatrist, youth mental health expert and Australian of the Year 2010, along with GetUp! , is pushing for mental health to be part of the reforms. We as the public, have been encouraged to support the GetUp! campaign in getting out voices heard about wanting better mental health services in Australia. Western Australians, such as myself, have been invited to send a fax via the GetUp! website to Premier Colin Barnett asking him not to come home without mental health reform. This is my message to him:
Dear Mr Barnett,
As an eighteen year old student who has suffered from mental illness for a number of years, I am concerned about mental health reform being excluded from discussions about health reform.
In trying to seek treatment, I have experienced how difficult it can be to access adequate and affordable mental health care. Because of the difficulty in accessing public services, I have had to go private in seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist. As a full time University student, this bears some financial burden on me. Unfortunately I am not given much option as without mental health care, my mental illness declines even further.
I am particularly concerned about the mental health care available for young people. At least three of my friends have been hospitalised at a psychiatric hospital before they have reached the age of 25. Perhaps with better outpatient care, and early intervention, my friends reaching crisis points and needing hospitalisations could have been avoided. With so many young people experiencing mental illness and youth suicide rates being so high, it is of concern that there are not many mental health services available for young people. Headspace is the only youth mental health service I am aware of, and the government is to be commended for funding these centers. However, with only 30 centers around Australia and from what I gather, only one part time psychologist at my local headspace, this is not enough and more needs to be done.
Mr Barnett, I urge you to please consider mental health reform in conjunction with health reform. Mental wellbeing is just as important as physcial wellbeing and the services available should be matched to reflect this.
I really hope that my message gets through to him and that it doesn’t sound too stupid or like an eight year old wrote it!
I realise that many of you do not live in Australia, but if you do, I’d encourage you to visit the GetUp! website, support this campaign and if are able, write to your premier through the GetUp! website encouraging them to bring about change for mental health too. I really hope that our voices are heard by these leaders, it is about time that mental health services are improved and more attention is given to this area.