Monday, October 11, 2004

Street life no solution for mentally ill

A press release from Clover Moore:

I have again raised concerns about poor inner city mental health services, and met with the Minister for Health to get action, following an earlier meeting with both the Chief Executive and Acting Director of Mental Health of St Vincent's Hospital.

I asked the Minister to fast track the redevelopment of the inappropriate and dangerous nineteenth century Caritas psychiatric facility, which was promised by the Premier in the 1999 election, but still only listed for initial funds in 2008/9. The Minister agreed to try to fast track this project.

The Minister also agreed to look at ways to increase ongoing support for people with chronic mental illness, particularly those who have little prospect for rehabilitation and need more than crisis care. Because there are no supported accommodation places with intensive support, seriously ill people are left on the street. I raised several examples to demonstrate the shocking distress for many people with a mental illness.

Police, welfare, homelessness and health service providers tell me that they cannot get help for many people who have a mental illness. The majority of people sleeping rough live with an untreated or undiagnosed mental illness, service providers cannot get help for them, and they cannot get accommodation unless their mental illness is being treated. One third of St Vincent's Hospital patients are from
'out of area', but their funding is based on a formula based on the area's population. St Vincent's Hospital officers tell me that the 27
Caritas beds are always full, and they usually have others waiting for beds or waiting for assessment in the Emergency Department.

The hospital is restructuring mental health services but this will not solve the lack of service, withdrawal of outreach support into the community, or make up for the lack of help for people with a mental illness.

I am very concerned that the hospital must be funded to expand services and not just re-organise existing resources, and will report back again when I have received a response from the Minister for Health.

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