News Archive 2012 Humphries - SMH photo by Tamara DeanHealthy appetite for life
Interview with Kevin Humphries, NSW Minister for Mental Health

December 29, 2012 - by Amy Corderoy - Health Editor, Sydney Morning Herald

He has been the driving force behind the government's plans to fix the delivery of mental health services. Since taking power, it has announced a new Mental Health Commission, begun a review of the Mental Health Act, and set up a mental healthcare telephone line.

Most importantly, Humphries has brought political momentum to mental health, something historically pushed under the carpet.  When the new Mental Health Commission was officially launched in October, the Premier, Attorney-General and ministers for health and family and community services all attended.  The commission will have the power to direct every portfolio in the government to achieve its goal of improving care.

Mental health and healthy lifestyles are probably the two most leftie portfolios to be had in a coalition government, so you would expect getting party room traction might be difficult.  However, Humphries doesn't see it that way. ............

.......Yet he is completely unperturbed by types of extreme behaviours and social differences that so often accompany severe mental illness.  ''We don't tend to like people that are a bit different, but often those people are some of the most gifted people I've met in a whole range of areas,'' he says

One such person is Lindsay, a published and recorded Sydney songwriter who regularly telephones media and politicians around Sydney, sometimes several times in a row.  Traumatised by his treatment in the mental health system, Lindsay wants the mental health act to be changed and for public hospital psychiatrists to have less power to restrain and medicate people against their will

Some of the recipients of his calls have responded by trying to get him hospitalised. One politician called the police.  In one of his regular calls, Lindsay tells me Humphries, on the other hand, came to his house, and listened to him play a song.

Read the entire interview:

GreenPioneerLogo120-EdgeTransp.pngRotary Club of Manly Sunrise

$120,000 donation by Rotary Club of Manly Sunrise enabled the completion of the $185,000 upgrade to the Pioneer Clubhouse premises.

Manly Daily Local News by Steven Deare

Pioneer Clubhouse, a service of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, officially opened their upgraded premises on Quirk Rd, Balgowlah in December.  The service helps people with mental issues gain confidence and helps them with entering community life and finding employment.

The $185,000 renovations to the old building - which staff said had cats and possums living in the ceiling - were mostly funded by a $120,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Manly Sunrise.  The revamp includes new meeting rooms and office, exercise and arts facilities. Pioneer has also appointed a dietitian and physiologist to play key roles.

Pioneer Clubhouse - Ph 02 9907 9999
Members plus 5 staff run the Clubhouse. Members play an important role - participating in decision-making and taking up some positions in administration, communications, gardening and hospitality to help them gain confidence and experience.  Pioneer Clubhouse also runs education and employment assistance programs.

Pioneer Clubhouse Upgrade - Dec 2012 - 385  Pioneer Clubhouse Upgrade - Dec 2012 - 386  Pioneer Clubhouse Upgrade - Dec 2012 - 401


Mental Health Council of AustraliaRecognition and Respect - Mental Health Carers Report 2012

launched 28 November 2012 by the Mental Health Council of Australia

The Recognition and Respect: Mental Health Carers Report 2012 builds on the ground-breaking work of Adversity to Advocacy: the lives and hopes of mental health carers (2009) and the Mental Health Carers report 2010.  The report provides an insight into the lives of some of the most dedicated yet vulnerable members of our community: people who regularly carer for someone with a mental illness.

The report is based on a survey of 508 mental health carers focussing on the 15 key issues identified in the 2008-2009 workshops and describes carers perspectives on the services available to them and the people for whom they care.

View or download the Mental Health Carers Report

A Contributing Life: the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Lived Experiences Personal Stories with Video Links

Launch of the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

27 November 2012 was a landmark day for people with a mental illness and their carers in Australia. The National Mental Health Commission launched its first annual report card.

Rightly, the Chair, Prof Allan Fels, notes in his introduction that this report may not address every request of the many people consulted by the Commission.  He notes strongly that this is a starting point which provides the base for future monitoring and reporting.  Prof Fels makes a number of critical points which underpin the report.  He says that mental health is everyone’s business.  He says that every person with a mental illness wants and should have a contributing life.  Very importantly he acknowledges the importance of the person’s story whether consumer or carer.  These themes continue throughout the report.

The report identifies four priority areas:

  • Mental health must be a high national priority for all governments and communities;
  • We need to provide “a complete picture” of what is happening and closely monitor and evaluate change;
  • We need to agree on the best ways to encourage improvements and get better results; and
  • We need to analyse where the gaps and barriers are to achieve a contributing life and agree on Australia’s direction.

It goes on to make 10 recommendations that address many critical areas that the Fellowship has advocated about for years such as employment, permanent and secure homes, increase potential for access to services when they are required, inclusive consultation and engagement with consumers and carers and the physical health of people with a mental illness.

This report acknowledges that about 7.3 million Australians aged 16 to 85 have lived experience of mental illness and that in any one year 3.2 million Australians will experience a mental health difficulty with 1.7 million receiving direct mental health services in 2009-10.  The size and potential of the problem is clearly underscored in this report.

by Rob Ramjan, AM
CEO Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW Inc

The AustralianAAP 29 Nov 2012

The NSW Ombudsman has found people are being kept in mental health facilities longer than they should because of poor planning by medical staff and a lack of support and accommodation in the community.

In his review of the files for 95 people in NSW mental health facilities, Ombudsman Bruce Barbour found over half had been admitted for between 2 and 10 years.  13 had been admitted for over 20 years, while 2 had been admitted as teenagers and had remained in hospital for 40 years.....

..... Mr Barbour said his inquiry had identified patients who should be living in the community.  "Our inquiry identified people aged 24 and 25 years who are capable of living in the community with the right support and who have already been in hospital for over five years," Mr Barbour said.  "It is unacceptable that these young people may be facing a similar future to others in our review who were admitted to hospital as teenagers and only left when they were discharged to aged care facilities over 40 years later."  ... go to full story

NSW Ombudsman 
View or download SR Denial of Rights: Mental Health Report

View or download SR Denial of Rights: Mental Health Report Recommendations

ABC ABC The Drum Anthony Waterlow Opinion by Pamela Burton, 28 Nov 2012

When police get it right

In light of the controversy about police use of guns and Tasers, lessons might be learned from the safe and peaceful arrest of Anthony Waterlow in potentially dangerous circumstances.

Pamela Burton tells how the safest weaponry of all - negotiation - was effectively used by NSW police officers trained in arresting people suffering from mental illness ..... read more about Anthony Waterlow's arrest....

.... Anthony Waterlow, it seems, was a direct beneficiary of the NSW Police Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) training program, the first of its kind in Australia. One of its aims is to reduce the risk of injury to police and mentally ill people during mental health crisis events. Pilot trials were developed by the NSW Police Force, NSW Health and the Schizophrenia Fellowship NSW (SFNSW) of a four-day course that included field work.

Throughout 2008-9, more than 100 frontline officers were trained and took back their learning to their local area command. Fortuitously, one of the three pilot sites was the Penrith Local Area Command near Windsor where Anthony was arrested.

In July 2009, the MHIT training program was established state-wide, aiming to accredit 10 per cent of operational police officers by 2015. An independent study of the pilot program by Charles Sturt University recommended that the use of Tasers be addressed in the ongoing program, and that consideration be given to including a mental illness awareness module in Taser training programs. Rob Ramjan, the CEO of SFNSW, reports that the wearing of MHIT badges by police itself acts as a circuit breaker.

As at the end of November 2012, the NSW Police MHIT has trained 1,018 frontline officers from around the state in its intensive four-day mental health training program. Recent tragic incidents including those mentioned above have indicated to authorities a clear need for all officers to receive MHIT training of at least one day.

It is understood that the NSW Government is considering extending funding for that purpose, in addition to the current intensive training program. All efforts that encourage negotiation as a de-escalation technique in lieu of Taser use must be applauded. ... full story..

The Daily Advertiser 22 Nov 2012

Sunflower House - Lisa Wilkins and Rob Ramjan - photo by Michael Frogley

Higher suicide rates in remote regions

A SPATE of 13 suicides within 9 weeks in the Riverina is evidence of the mental health crisis facing communities in regional and remote areas of Australia.

A Suicide in Rural and Remote Areas of Australia report, compiled at the request of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, has shown disproportionately high rates of suicides in remote regions compared to metropolitan areas.  Statistics from Queensland showed men in remote areas were 2.6 times more likely to die by suicide and rural, regional and remote communities face rates of suicide around 20 to 30 per cent higher than in metro areas.

Schizophrenia Fellowship chief Rob Ramjam AM, who was in Wagga yesterday for the five-year anniversary of Sunflower House, said the report was consistent with issues in this area.

"There have been clusters of suicides in the Murrumbidgee area, in one case there were 13 suicides within nine weeks," Mr Ramjam said.  "All of those were men from the land.  Some of the deaths heard about are by fourth or fifth generation farmers, who for them it's not just about losing their job but their heritage.  There is no question over the last few years that the greatest risk is the bloke on the land."

The report showed that regional communities face unique challenges in preventing and recovering from suicide including social isolation, economic stresses and lack of availability of services.  .... full Higher suicide rates in remote regions story at The Weekly Advertiser...

Griffith University logo 
Griffith University - Suicide in Rural and Remote Areas of Australia report - view or download the PDF

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Draft Legislation

The Australian Government has introduced the draft National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill into Parliament.  The Bill creates the framework for a national scheme, including eligibility criteria, age requirements, and what constitutes reasonable and necessary support.

When the Bill is introduced to the Parliament, the Government will ask the Parliament to refer the legislation to a Parliamentary Committee for consideration.  During this time, the Commonwealth will continue to work with states and territories on the legislation, and consult with people with disabilities, their families and carers on the detail of the Bill, to ensure that they can continue to provide feedback about this important reform. People with disability, their families, carers and advocates will also have an opportunity to comment on the Bill on the Your Say forum on the NDIS website.

View or download NDIS Legislation Overview
View or download NDIS Draft Legislation

Menzies-Nous Australia Health Survey Report 2012

3 million Australians (13.6%) reported having a mental and behavioural condition in 2011-2012

Menzies-Nous Australia Health Survey Report 2012

3 million Australians (13.6%) reported having a mental and behavioural condition, an increase from 11.2% in 2007-08 and 9.6% in 2001. Mood (affective) problems, which include depression, were most prevalent (2.1 million people or 9.7% of the population) followed by anxiety related problems (850,100 people or 3.8%). Mental and behavioural conditions continued to be more common amongst women (15.1%) than men (12.0%).

Long-term health conditions - of the National Health Priority Areas, the most common long-term health conditions experienced in Australia in 2011-12 were:

  • arthritis - 3.3 million people (14.8%)
  • mental and behavioural condition - 3.0 million people (13.6%)
  • asthma - 2.3 million people (10.2%)
  • heart disease - 1.0 million people (4.7%)

  Download or view full report (PDF)

Australian Bureau of Statistics


Australian Bureau of Statistics - Australian Health Survey 2011-2012 link



Jenny Macklin  The Australian

by: Lanai Vasek - The Australian, Nov 01, 2012

NDIS help will be available for mental illness sufferers

People with a mental illness or episodic disability who are unable to properly manage their relationships, home and work lives will get access to support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra, Families Minister Jenny Macklin said yesterday that the legislation for the NDIS would be put to parliament within weeks, as the government tries to shore up the scheme before its launch sites are due to start from July 1 next year.
Link to The Australian

Pro Bono News

Making a National Disability Insurance Scheme Real

Link to longer story   Nov 01, 2012.  Author Jenny Macklin

amplify your art accessible ARTS - ARTS + DISABILITY NSW

$5,000-$10,000 grants are available for individual NSW artists with disability

through "Amplify your art" program, to develop their professional artistic practice (including training, mentoring, travel, skills development).  Inc all professional art forms such as Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Literature, Hybrid/ Interdisciplinary Arts, Film and Radio.
Applications close 10 Dec 2012. more...

New Moves Logo 150 px   Health Issues Journal - Issue 108                Health Issues Journal #108 Pg18 New Moves

New Moves: Targeting physical and mental well-being in people with mental illness
Health Issues Journal - Issue 108 (Summer 2012) Article: by SFNSW's own Katherine Gill

The New Moves program, developed by The Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, specifically targets the physical health and recovery needs of people with a mental illness.  New Moves engages participants in exercise activities that target cardiovascular fitness and strength training.  Activities are performed in a group environment with peer support, which encourages social interaction and interpersonal skill development.  By participating in the preparation of healthy meals and a variety of educational discussion topics, participants learn skills to manage their physical health and long term recovery better.  Program evaluation has found significant benefits to physical health, social well-being and quality of life. 
To read the full article


Psychiatry Update Eye TestsPsychiatry Update1 November, 2012  Kate Aubusson

Eye test model detects schizophrenia with “exceptional accuracy”

A new model combining a range of simple eye tests can detect schizophrenia with “exceptional accuracy”, new UK research reveals.

 After recording a range of eye movements among 88 schizophrenia cases and 88 controls using several tests (each the subject of numerous studies geared to schizophrenia diagnosis spanning decades), the researchers from the University of Aberdeen found their model perfectly separated case and control subjects.

 The tests had a predictive validity of 87.8% when retesting 34 participants nine-months later and classifying the eye movements of 36 new schizophrenia cases and 52 new controls, they reported in Biological Psychiatry.  But after taking into account the entire dataset of 298 assessments, the model had near perfect accuracy at 98.3%.

More detailed info at University of Aberdeen site

Hearing Voices Network NSW  Inside Out Conversations  Macquarie University

Youth Hearing Voices: Understanding & supporting young people who hear voices

½ day Conference, 3rd Dec 2012, Macquarie University

Marius Romme and Sandra Escher will share their approach to working with voice hearing based on 25 years of reserach and partnership with voice hearers. They will be joined by Kellie Comans, young voice-hearer and expert by experience. The conference will focus on current research, an approach that begins with accepting and making sense of the voice hearing experience, and practices/tools for supporting and working with young voice hearers.
Download a flyer and registration form

Inside Out ConversationsLife History & Voices: An Introduction to the Maastricht Approach

Workshop 5th Dec 2012, Darlinghurst

The Maastricht Approach represents a paradigm shift regarding voice hearing. Psychiatrist Marius Romme and researcher Sandra Escher have led the development of this approach over 20 years, leading to an international network of people working together to introduce new understandings and approaches to working with voices. The workshop will review the research for the Maastricht Approach, explore the relationship between voices and significant life events, introduce participants to the Maastricht Hearing Voices interview, the systematic use of the interview, report and construct and their contribution to a support/ recovery plan.
Download a flyer and registration form

ABC New England North WestKevin Humphries - NSW Minister for Mental Health (photo ABC)

30 October, 2012
by John Hyde - story link...

Funding for acute mental health patients

Funding has been announced for better services at Armidale hospital for acute sufferers of mental health. For years the Armidale community has been calling for more mental health support.  The death of a young man with a mental illness Elijah Holcombe, shot by police in June 2009 tragically highlighted cracks in the system.

Now Armidale has been chosen as the site for a new pilot program which aims to provide a faster and safer treatment for people with a mental illness in an emergency situation.

Kevin Humphries the Minister for Mental Health has launched the program, part of a budget committment.  "We wanted to know no matter where you live in NSW, we wanted timely access to health and in my case mental health facilties," he says.

Mr Humphries says problems arise when people with acute mental illness are delivered to hospitals which are not equipped to detain people.  Now under the pilot, Armidale hospital will be given extra staff and resources worth to upgrade it to a "declared mental health facility," one of 38 across the state, but the first in the New England.
The Minister says until now, the response to acute patients was not satisfactory.  "Sometimes they were treated, sometimes they basically wandered off," he says.
Part of today's announcement is also a rural mental health emergency transport project. it's an agreement between police, the hospitals and the ambulance service where patients will be transferred by the ambulance service rather than police to either Tamworth or Armidale.  $1.1 million dollars will go towards that extra ambulance resource.

The move has been welcomed by carers of people with mental illness.

Debra Turner is a volunteer offering support to carers of people with mental illness, she says for the acutely ill, it is a great step forward, particularly the ability of a "declared" facility to detain people against their will.  "Always I feel the issue is how do you keep them in there, they are not thinking rationally usually and they often discharge themselves and of course be of harm to themselves," says Debra.

2 ABC radio interview audio links - Kevin Humphries and Debra Turner from Carer Assist (a service of SFNSW)

CTV News Big Pharma CTV News Canada Staff
Oct. 29, 2012 (link to Big Pharma full story)

Big pharma pulling back from mental health drug research. 

Pharmaceutical companies are focusing fewer resources on developing drugs to combat mental illness, despite the fact it is a leading health issue and represents a potential massive cash cow, a pair of new studies has found.

Two recent reports published in the journal Science Translational Medicine say drug development for major mental illnesses or psychiatric disorders -- such as schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder -- is virtually at a standstill.

"Despite high prevalence and unmet medical need, major pharmaceutical companies are de-emphasising or exiting psychiatry, thus removing significant capacity from efforts to discover new medicines,” states one report, written by Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, and Steven Hyman, of Harvard University.

That's largely due to stringent regulations and approval processes for mental health drugs, the authors note, as well as difficulty with developing medications that can be proven to actually combat mental illness.  more ...

China Digital Times

New Chinese Law Stops Forced Psychiatric Treatment

26 Oct 2012

Xinhua reports that, after almost 30 years of efforts, China has adopted its first mental health law to protect patient privacy and other rights, and to combat the problem of wrongful institutionalisation.  more...

Medical News Todayby Kelly Fitzgerald 21 Oct 2012

New Imaging Technique Could Provide Insight Into Psychiatric Disorders

A new way to take images, monitoring how brain cells organize with each other to delegate certain behaviors, has been discovered by a team of neuroscientists and could potentially identify information on diseases like autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The new imaging technique, is based on the recognition of calcium ions in neurons, and could track the way brain circuits perform such functions, like detecting an odor or instigating movement.

Previous research has shown us that brain imaging can lead to detection of psychiatric disorders like autism. MEG machines have been used to analyze the magnetic fields of a children's brains.  full story...

More evidence linking creativity, mental illness

Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A large new study adds to evidence linking creativity and mental illness.
The findings also suggest that to safeguard the positive traits associated with mental illness, new approaches to treatment might be considered, the researchers said.

"If one takes the view that certain phenomena associated with the patient's illness are beneficial, it opens the way for a new approach to treatment," he said in an institute news release.  "In that case, the doctor and patient must come to an agreement on what is to be treated, and at what cost. In psychiatry and medicine generally there has been a tradition to see the disease in black-and-white terms and to endeavor to treat the patient by removing everything regarded as [unhealthy]," Kyaga added.

Some of the world's great artists who reportedly suffered from mental illness include the painter Vincent van Gogh, composer Ludwig van Beethoven, mathematician John Nash (portrayed in the film "A Beautiful Mind") and playwright Eugene O'Neill.

Link to full story The study was published online Oct. 11 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

13-09-2012 The Atlantic
13 Sep 2012 by Kathy BenjaminEdvard Munch - The Scream

Historical Geniuses & Their Psychiatric Conditions

Compelling cases for retroactive diagnoses in 11 of history's great minds.  Studies have shown that there are much higher instances of mental disorders in political leaders and creative geniuses than in the general population....


ABC CatalystABC Catalyst Mental Illness Diagnosis 4oct2012
Series 13 Episode 19  4th Oct 2012

Mental Illness Diagnosis

Despite all the advances made in psychiatry over the last century, accurately diagnosing mental illness still remains elusive.   to read more and watch the episode....

Herald SunSue Dunlevy, News Limited Network  07 Oct, 2012

Doubts cast on youth mental health program

Patrick McGorryFORMER Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry's $222 million youth mental health program funded by taxpayers is under challenge from international psychiatrists.

Also being challenged is its claim psychosis can be detected early and prevented has been dropped from psychiatry's diagnostic bible. 

West Australian Labor MP Martin Whitely has taken aim at the program and attacked his own colleague Mental Health Minister Mark Butler for funding the program in a speech to the state parliament.
McGorry's Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres got the largest slice of funding under in Labor's 2010 $2.2 billion mental health plan.
However, Whitely says research shows the pre-psychotic state McGorry wants to diagnose has a false positive rate of between 64 and 92 per cent and he fears thousands of young teens could be put on anti-psychotic drugs for no reason.  These drugs have serious side effects such as massive weight gain, heart problems and metabolic disorder.
"The problem is that the politicians have let a handful of gurus relying on rhetoric, charisma and hype drive the direction of the mental health policy in Australia," he told the parliament.  "They have accepted their overblown claims without scrutiny," he said.
A recently published audit of McGorry's Orygen Youth Health medical records found 75 per cent of those diagnosed with depression in 2007 were given the drugs too early.
And leading children's psychiatrist Professor Jon Jeureidini has criticsed a training video that demonstrates how to diagnose McGorry's ultra-high risk psychosis as a demonstration of "how not to carry out a psychiatric interview".
Professor Partick McGorry - who was named Australian of the Year in January 2010 for his services to youth mental health - denies his centres are using anti-psychotic drugs to treat young people in a prepsychotic state.  "We actually take 27 per cent of patients off anti-psychotics," he says.

Many young people aged 15-24 who come to his centres seeking help have not had a psychotic episode but they do have mental health issues that need "care and support", he says.  And he says while psychiatry's diagnostic bible the DSM5 has dropped the inclusion of psychosis risk syndrome from its upcoming new edition he hopes it will be included as a research area in the guide.
Eighteen months after they were promised none of the 16 new EPPIC centres have been rolled stymied by states who have failed to come up with their share of the funding.
A spokesman for Mental Health Minister Mark Butler said the onset of a first episode of psychosis, if left untreated, "can seriously derail a person's life so it's important we get the right support to people as early as possible".  "Mr Whitely is entitled to his opinion, but the EPPIC model is commonly recognised as best practice and has become the template for the development of specialist early intervention psychosis services throughout the world.," the spokesman said.

Canterbury League Club logo

SFNSW would like to thank Canterbury League Club for their generous contribution of $10,000 which will go towards the Health & Wellness Program in association with Canterbury Community Health and C-Life Health Club


The Australian
 Allan Fels
by: Sue Dunlevy - 1 Aug 2012

Jobs the Measure of Mental Health Reform

Lifting the employment of people with a mental illness will be the "prime" benchmark used to judge the success of the government's $2.2 billion investment in mental health reform says Australia's first National Mental Health Commission chair Professor Allan Fels......

Vowing to operate in a "fiercely independent" manner, Professor Fels called on the Council of Australian Governments to go back to the drawing board on its new activity based hospital funding as it applies to mental health.
There was a danger it would encourage states to force the mentally ill into hospitals for care because they would attract 50 per cent funding from the commonwealth government. This could reduce the amount of best practice care in the community.......

Prof Fels says people with a mental illness must be included in the new National Disability Insurance Scheme and he will fight any attempt to have them removed for cost cutting reasons.
Australia has one of the lowest rates of employment of people with a mental illness and it is contributing to the poverty and isolation those with a mental illness experience Professor Fels told the National Press Club today.
"Be under no illusion - if you're unemployed for a long time - you and your children are either poor already or will become poor," he said.
"Switzerland achieves a 66 per cent employment rate for people with serious mental illness whereas we're down at 48 per cent.".....
read the full article ...


NSW Minister for Mental Health Kevin Humphries has announced the appointment of John Feneley as the inaugural Commissioner of the NSW Mental Health Commission. Mr Humphries said Mr Feneley’s appointment to lead the Commission was a major milestone in the NSW Government’s on-going mental health reforms.

“The Mental Health Commission is one of the most important mental health reforms in the State’s history,” Mr Humphries said. “It will drive a more accountable and efficient mental health system and, most importantly, enhance the mental health and well-being of the people of NSW. The Commissioner will deliver strategic direction for mental health in NSW, ensure services are appropriately designed and targeted, and review, monitor and report to the Government, the Parliament and the public on how the system is working, to ensure we are using funding effectively to deliver real results.”

Mr Feneley brings to the position extensive experience within the mental health sector as Deputy President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal and through mental health policy and law reform work as Assistant Director General NSW Attorney Generals Department.

He has also served on the Board of the Schizophrenia Fellowship and government Boards and committees such as the Youth Justice Advisory Committee, the Child Death Review Team and the Legal Profession Admission Board. Mr Feneley is also a former Deputy Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

“The Commissioner’s broad experience and expertise as a legal professional and mental health advocate will ensure the Commission is an independent, passionate and authoritative champion for mental health,” Mr Humphries said.

Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Professor Allan Fels, welcomed Mr Feneley’s appointment and said he looked forward to working with him to develop a single plan for the future of mental health delivery in NSW that the State and Federal Governments can invest in. I expect the work of the NSW Commission will complement and enhance the work of the National Commission, with myself and Mr Feneley working closely together to ensure our efforts to improve mental health outcomes are coordinated,” Mr Fels said.....more.....
Click here for the full story.......PDF

ABC News logo

Expert warns against child mental health checks

by Eleanor Hall

One of the most influential psychiatrists in the United States says the Federal Government's program to screen three-year-olds for mental health problems is "ridiculous" and potentially dangerous.

Australian preschoolers are set to be screened for early signs of mental illness as part of the Government-funded Healthy Kids Check, which would be voluntary for families.  The Australian Medical Association (AMA) supports the initiative but says the evaluations must focus on broad-based problems rather than individual things like fear of the dark or fear of monsters.

The Healthy Kids Check will be predominately conducted by GPs who will refer children with troubling behaviour to psychologists and paediatricians.  The program will cost $11 million over five years and is expected to identify about 27,000 children who would benefit from extra support.

But Professor Allen Frances, an Emeritus Professor at the Duke University, has raised concerns about the scheme.  Professor Frances was the chairman of the American Psychiatric committee that produced the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which psychiatrists around the world call their bible.  He is highly critical of the latest edition of the manual and warns that if it is issued unamended it will "medicalise normality". 

Audio: Professor Allen Frances speaks to The World Today (The World Today)

RELATED STORY: Preschoolers to get mental health checks

Frank WalkerFrank Walker in Memorium, a great loss to SFNSW

"It is with real regret that I write to inform the Fellowship that our past president Frank Walker has died.  This is a real loss to us all. Much will be written about the many achievements of his public career, but for us Frank brought the many skills and contacts of a lifetime as a politician and minister of government and the anger and concerns of someone whose own family was deeply and tragically affected by mental illness.  He was our longest serving president, who continued in the position despite his own long illness, because he saw that he was needed by the Fellowship and because of his passion to make things better for people with a mental illness.

Frank was president during a period of expansion for the Fellowship that saw us move from existing in a small office with an insecure budget to being an organisation that can do much more than just badger the minister of the day. Today we provide services and support for people across the state.  Frank clearly saw us as being much more than an advocacy group and looked forward to the development of such initiatives as the clubhouses, housing projects and employment services.  Despite this significant expansion and during a time of the corporatisation of many non-government organisations, the Fellowship Board remained a place for Carers and Consumers.  Frank always gave primacy to their input.

Working with Frank for me was anything but dour.  He liked people (generally) and was able to bring humour and a story to any meeting that he was in.  The stories were told with relish and were aimed at the issue at hand, or the minister/bureaucracy obstructing at that moment, and appeared to encompass the whole of government, the law and many other areas in New South Wales, if not Australia, for the past 30 years.  They were great stories.

We gave Frank Life Membership of the Fellowship recently, which was a very small token for what we owed him.  I am very glad that we did that.  I am sure that we all extend our condolences to his wife Pam and his family." 

Anthony Harris - 2012 President Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW Inc

Mental illness in young men costs $3b pa, says reportsmh logo

Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler - photo: Quentin Jones (cropped)

by Amy Coderoy May 30, 2012

"We must intervene early and invest smarter" ...says the Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler.
Photo: Quentin Jones

 MENTAL ILLNESS in young men costs the Australian economy more than $3 billion per annum, a new report to be launched by the minister for mental health today reveals.
The cost, which equates to $387,000 lost each hour, is largely due to the unfilled potential of men who drop out of work or education while suffering their problems in silence, experts say.
The federal government covers about 31 per cent of the annual cost of mental illness in men and boys aged between 12 and 25 through direct health and welfare costs, says the report, Counting the Cost: The Impact of Young Men's Mental Health on the Australian Economy.
The rest is borne by individuals and businesses through reduced earning potential, lost productivity over time and other costs.
The minister for mental health and ageing, Mark Butler, said the report showed the tremendous scope of the mental health challenge facing Australia.
"The clear message from Counting the Cost is that we must intervene early and invest smarter to reduce the cost and impacts associated with young men's mental illness. We stand to gain from both a happier, healthier population and increased productivity," he said.

The report recommends men be supported to receive higher levels of education, that men with mental illness be helped to remain in work, and that current policy responses and investments in mental health be evaluated.  Read smh article...

smh logo Adam Cullen - photo by Barry Chapman

July 30, 2012  by Wendy Frew

Archibald Prize-winning artist Adam Cullen, one of Australia's best known contemporary artists, familiar for his distinctive portraits of high-profile Australians such as actor David Wenham, has died at his home in the Blue Mountains. 

read more Sydney Morning Herald...

Adam Cullen - photo by Barry Chapman



2012 Life Awards

Do you know someone dedicated to PREVENTING SUICIDE?
Submit a nomination for the 2012 LIFE Awards.

The 2012 LIFE Awards are NOW OPEN for nomination.  The LIFE Awards acknowledge the outstanding work being done within the suicide prevention sector across Australia.

Each year, Suicide Prevention Australia receives nominations from across the country and it is great to hear and see all the amazing work being done to help prevent suicide in this country.

The LIFE Awards will be held on the evening of the 11th October in conjunction with the Annual National Suicide Prevention Conference. They will take place within the program of the Conference Dinner.

Suicide Prevention Australia encourages you to nominate an individual, organisation, program, initiative or group that you feel has significantly contributed towards the prevention of suicide within Australia.

PLEASE NOTE: You may self nominate for a LIFE Awards.  Nominations close Friday, 31st August 2012 
You can nominate by:

All nominations MUST be accompanied with a LIFE Awards Nomination Form.
Download forms, nomination guidelines and details here.

The LIFE Awards are being held in conjunction with The Annual National Suicide Prevention Conference.

Registrations and abstract submissions are NOW OPEN.  Please visit the conference website for information on how to register and submit an abstract.

Consumers Self Advocacy WorkshopNSW Institute of Psychiatry - Consumer Self Advocacy Workshop

This practical 1-day workshop will provide consumers (people living with a diagnosis of mental illness) with the basic knowledge they need to be able to self advocate. The workshop aims to familiarise consumers with the principles and strategies used in self-advocacy and how to be more confi dent in speaking up to pursue their rights and interests.
Date: 20 August 2012
Fee: $40 (flat fee; no early bird or unwaged discount applies for this workshop)
Presenter: Sandy Watson
Registrations: Agnes D’Souza

Click here to go to NSW Institute of Psychiatry website for further details and application form

SFNSW's successful Grants supported by local MPs

Fantastic support from local MPs helps SFNSW achieve 6  successful Community Building Partnership Grants

Recently four of our services have been successful in gaining Community Building Partnership Grants to upgrade their premises.  Our teams are delighted to be able to extend or improve their facilities.  Our lucky services are:

  • Harmony House, Campbelltown, in partnership with the Beautiful Minds Community Committee, will receive $98,000 to extend their training room.
  • Pioneer Clubhouse, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Manly Sunrise, will receive $60,000 towards their renovations.
  • The Sanctuary Respite Centre at North Head will receive $10,000 towards the renovation of their bathrooms, and
  • The Hut at Ryde, will receive $16,799 towards the cost of their new kitchen.

The grant applications were supported by the service’s local members of Parliament, so we thank Mike Baird, MP for Manly, Victor Dominello, MP for Ryde and Bryan Doyle, MP for Campbelltown, for their encouragement and support and look forward to welcoming them to our renovated premises.

Last year we were successful in gaining funds from the Community Building Partnerships Program to renovate kitchens at the West Street Tennis Centre in Nowra and at our Gladesville offices.  These grants were supported by Anthony Roberts, MP for Lane Cove and Shelley Hancock, MP for the South Coast.  We thank them also.


As part of a new National Partnership Agreement (NP) on Mental Health, the Commonwealth will provide the NSW Government with $57.6 million over 5 years for three new projects that will improve the care and support provided to people living with severe mental illness

Under the NP, NSW is receiving the largest share of funding of all states and territories.  The agreement between the Commonwealth and NSW will mean more services and support for people with a mental illness who frequently present at emergency departments, or who risk cycling in and out of institutional settings

The following projects will receive Commonwealth funding:

  • $35.2 million for the expansion of the existing NSW Housing and Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) to enable more people to live in the community in stable and secure accommodation, with links to clinical mental health and rehabilitation services for people who require 16 or 24 hour support
  • $12.3 million for the provision of intensive, family focussed support to mothers with mental illness and their children to keep them together, through the provision of high, medium and low packages of care and short term housing
  • $10.2 million for in-reach support services to boarding house residents who have been assessed as having mental health issues, through the provision of 200 continuous and ongoing new low support packages

NSW Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries, said that this agreement was just one example of the ways that the NSW Government is working with the Commonwealth to deliver better services for the people of NSW.  “The NSW Government has made a strong commitment to ensuring that people with mental health problems do not cycle in and out of homelessness and the acute hospital system,” Mr Humphries said.  more.....

Schizophrenia Awareness Week 14 - 20 May 2012

Schizophrenia Awareness Week is an annual event held in May. It provides an opportunity to raise community awareness of schizophrenia and mental illness in general. We do this through a range of activities, including information displays and events across NSW, a Symposium, and media coverage. 

We have organised a range of activities for Schizophrenia Awareness Week designed to engage different sections of the community. These include our Annual Symposium.  This year, for the first time, we will also be holding a Photographic Competition to run in tandem with our Annual Poetry Competition.

Please access the menus on the left for further information
Please click here to join our mailing list for 2012 to receive an Information Kit for Schizophrenia Awareness Week including a poster for you to display.

Schizophrenia Awareness Week 2012 Symposium will be held on Saturday 19th May 8:30am - 4pm

Symposium Theme:   “National Focus on Mental Health”
Guest Speakers:   Professor Vaughan Carr, Robyn Kruk (CEO National Mental Health Commission) and Kevin Humphries Minister for Mental Health

The GuardianPress Association  - The Guardian, Friday 6 April 2012

Anti-psychotic medicine should not be the first option offered to people at risk of developing schizophrenia, researchers said.

Clinicians should be "extremely careful" about prescribing anti-psychotics to young people, because only a tenth will go on to develop more serious conditions, a study suggests.

The study by five universities found that "benign" psychological treatments, including Cognitive Therapy (CT), were effective in reducing the severity of psychotic experiences that can lead to conditions such as schizophrenia.

Published on the British Medical Journal website, the study found the frequency, seriousness, and intensity of psychotic symptoms that may lead to more serious conditions was reduced by counselling and Cognitive Therapy.  The landmark research could pave the way for coherent treatment for young people at risk of developing psychotic illnesses.

Teams from the universities of Glasgow, Birmingham, Cambridge and East Anglia, led by the University of Manchester, gave participants, aged between 14 and 35, weekly CT sessions for a maximum of six months, over a four year period.  They then monitored participants after treatment to track their symptoms.

Before the trial, international evidence estimated that 40-50% of people at risk of developing psychosis at a young age would progress to a psychotic illness.  But only 8% of patients in the study were shown to have made the transition.

Researchers said the results have led to suggestions that anti-psychotic medicine should not be the first option for young patients.  Professor Andrew Gumley, who led the research team at the University of Glasgow, said: "This study has very important implications for ensuring that young people who are at risk of developing psychosis are offered psychological therapy.

"Our findings that there is a much lower transition rate than previously found means that clinicians have to be extremely careful about prescribing anti-psychotics in this group since only one in 10 will actually develop psychosis."

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

British Medical Journal

Read the original research criteria and conclusions here

SFNSW 2012 Poetry & Photography CompetitionSFNSW's First Annual Poetry & Photography Competition

 At SFNSW we have noticed that so many of the people we work with are multi-talented creators.  With this in mind, we are thrilled to announce that we have decided to open our Annual Poetry Contest to include Photography!

Entries are due by Thursday, 17 May 2012, to conclude the first week of SAW.  We will be hosting a morning tea at our Gladesville office on this date, between 10:30 am and 12:00 noon.  All applicants are invited to join us on this day, and submissions can also be entered at this time.  For our poets, we will also be having a poetry reading, so feel free to bring your entry and share it in honour of Schizophrenia Awareness Week.

This year’s contest will be judged by a panel of four TRISS Vollies.  Poetry  and Photography sections will each have a First Prize 0f $100 and a Highly Commended Prize of $50.  The Awards Ceremony  will be held on14 September.

 Click here for Rules and Entry Form or go to Poetry & Photography on the left menu for more info.

"Assisting With Schizophrenia" at Campbelltown
on Thursday 17th May 2012 from 10.30am to 2pm with a light lunch provided.

"What is schizophrenia and what help and support is available for the person I care for with this diagnosis?"

The Assisting with Schizophrenia education program can help answer this question. Assisting with Schizophrenia is part of the Assisting Families education program. This is a Carer Assist education program consisting of 14 individual modules each focusing on a specific topic for families, friends and anyone who cares for someone with a mental illness.

Bookings are essential as space is limited. Please phone Janelle on 4620 5255

New COPMI initiative for Dads (information available from 23rd Apr 2012)

COPMI logo

COPMI Dad Poster

COPMI has created a suite of materials for dads who have (or their partner has) a mental illness to help them with their parenting.  As men are often overlooked when it comes to parenting, this information speaks directly to ‘dad’.  His input and influence in his child’s life shouldn’t be underestimated.

The information:
Web pages, online videos and information sheets with practical information, tips and stories under six themes have been produced to help dads be their best for their children.

  • Parenting: Being a dad
  • Understanding and managing mental illness
  • Looking after your emotional wellbeing
  • Looking after your physical wellbeing
  • Partners in parenting
  • Finding support

Developed and tested with consumers, carers and health professionals this information will soon be available on our redesigned website.  These materials were produced with funding from the Australian Government and will be launched by the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler MP mid April.

The campaign pack - to order this information email COPMI with your post details and you’ll be sent a pack including:

  • Poster for work settings
  • 25 x wallet cards to lead dads to the website
  • 25 x 6 themed information sheets
  • Mouse mat with tips for talking to patients/clients about parenting


nib foundation grant has enabled us to establish a NSW Young Carers program - ON FIRE

nib foundation             ON FIRE logo

Children of parents with a mental illness are often a neglected group, but thanks to a national partnership grant from nib foundation, young carers now have access to much-needed mentoring and support services.

The $500,000 grant from nib foundation has allowed for an 18-month, state-wide rollout of the Schizophrenia Fellowship’s ON FIRE support program to carers aged eight to 18 years.

Visit the ON FIRE website for more information.