Two experts ignored on mental health care – Humphries


State Labor’s failure to adopt the NSW Liberals & Nationals community care mental health model, but remain with an acute hospital centric model that is way over-stretched and under-resourced, is a sheer display of arrogance on the states most vulnerable, Shadow Minister for Mental Health Kevin Humphries said today.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on calls by Australian of the Year and mental health expert Patrick McGorry, for a massive overhaul of the mental health system to direct funds away from acute hospital services to more community-based care.[1]

Mr Humphries said the NSW Liberals & Nationals share this view and called for a transitional step-up step-down community care approach to mental health, to do away with the current acute centric model in disarray.

In the Garling Special Commission of Inquiry Report, Commissioner Garling praised the community care model stating “treatment for mental health illness in the community results in greater patient satisfaction, reduced re-admission rates to inpatient mental health units, shorter lengths of stay in hospital, and decreased homelessness and unemployment,” Mr Humphries said.[2]

Today, Professor McGorry has called for the “centre of gravity of mental health services be shifted away from hospitals to community-based facilities because the sector had suffered enormously.

Here we have two experts calling for a community care approach to mental health yet this State Government continue to sit on their hands, marginalising the states most vulnerable.

Western Australia, Victoria, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have all adopted a recovery model of intervention to drive community based mental health initiatives while NSW falls behind once again.

The Western Australian Minister for Mental Health Graham Jacobs recently said “in my strategy in improving emotional well being and consequences of mental health, I will be encouraging more funding to the community supports and keeping people out of hospital.[3]

Mental illness is a major problem now at crisis point, yet still ‘swept under the carpet’ by this cash strapped NSW Labor Government, who more than a year on, have failed to implement Professor Garling’s mental health recommendations.

Fundamentally nothing will change until there is a change of Government.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals have singled out mental health as a stand alone portfolio, in a bid to restore its capacity through a community care approach,” Mr Humphries said.

[1] McGorry urges mental health overhaul, SMH, 22/02/10

[2] Garling Special Commission of Inquiry, page 799

[3] Community Model Needs Support, Graham Jacobs, 23/10/09