Parents say more mental health funding needed
Rachel Carbonell reported this story on Friday, July 30, 2010 08:06:00
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TONY EASTLEY: If Labor was hoping to have satisfied the demands of people wanting more mental health services in Australia by its announcement that it will spend an extra $277 million then it may be disappointed.
An Australian political pressure group says its mental health campaign has grown at an unprecedented rate with 75,000 people joining the cause in just four days.
Last night hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil in Melbourne where Australian of the Year professor Patrick McGorry led calls for the Government to commit more money to the country's mental health system.
Rachel Carbonell reports.
RACHEL CARBONELL: At the candlelight vigil outside the International Youth Mental Health Conference in Melbourne the message may have been political but it was personal too.
Hilda Zonaveldbaat's son Jordan committed suicide after a long battle with depression and many unsuccessful attempts by his parents to get help.
HILDA ZONAVELDBAAT: The stress that we parents live with when we are caring for children who suffer this illness is unbelievable. It is sheer hell.
RACHEL CARBONELL: She says her son was ignored by the mental health system and she's now pouring her grief into a campaign to help others in similar situations.
HILDA ZONAVELDBAAT: He left us 2009 and our lives have changed forever. Nothing, nothing will make it any better. But at least by me coming here and asking you please, and asking you politicians, we don't care what flavour you are – do something to help bring the money in for mental health, please.
RACHEL CARBONELL: Many at the vigil were young people with personal experiences with mental illness. Nicole Donker says her brush with the system when she was in her early twenties was catastrophic.
NICOLE DONKER: The antidepressants that I was prescribed because there was a misdiagnosis caused me to go into a major hyper manic phase because I am actually bipolar and all hell broke loose really.
RACHEL CARBONELL: The director of clinical services at Orygen Youth Health and the Australian of the Year professor Patrick McGorry says the peak onset for mental illness is adolescence and early adulthood which is why more early intervention for youth is desperately needed.
He says Labor's $277 million plan is simply not enough and the Coalition's $1.5 billion plan may have a better price tag and a focus on youth but it excludes children and older people.
PATRICK MCGORRY: We have to ask the Prime Minister, how is this commitment going to be realised if there is not a financial investment allocated to support it? Is it going to come out of thin air?
RACHEL CARBONELL: While many high profile mental health experts have expressed disappointment with the announcements by the two major parties not all are in agreement.
Professor Frank Oberklaid, director of the centre for Community Child Health at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital says it's important to develop a scientific consensus on the best way to tackle the problem before throwing money at it.
FRANK OBERKLAID: What does the science say? What does the research say about the best way to address these problems? Then cost it out properly and then introduce that over a period of time.
RACHEL CARBONELL: But professor Patrick McGorry says the building blocks are already there. All that's needed now is the money and the commitment.
PATRICK MCGORRY: The fundamentals are already there. The Health and Hospitals Reform Commission has laid out 12 recommendations which are being looked at very, very carefully and offer a blueprint for a way forward which could be invested in tomorrow.
TONY EASTLEY: Professor Patrick McGorry ending that report from Rachel Carbonell.