News Archive 2013
Broadcast 10 Dec 2013
Reporter Louise Milligan
New report warning Aussie kids in psychiatric care are suffering from out-dated practices of seclusion and restraint. more...
Amy Corderoy 4 Dec
Rural mental health services in remote NSW at risk
as changes made to fly-in, fly-out. NSW's top psychiatrists say financially stretched health districts are cutting the services despite severe mental health problems in rural and regional areas and workforce shortages. more...
National Mental Health Commission say seclusion & restraint is constantly raised as vital issue by consumers, carers and mental health professionals.
Read media release by Prof Allan Fels 28 Nov
NMHC is calling on all Australians to sign the Seclusion and Restraint Declaration.
by Sophie Scott, 27 Nov 2013
Health experts say too many people with mental illness are ending up in the criminal justice system and in hospital beds because they are inadequately supported in the community. The 2nd National Report Card on Mental Health Suicide Prevention says there is a growing divide between those who are empowered to live a contributing life and those who face unemployment, homelessness and discrimination with mental health problems. more...
by Chloe Hart
Mon 28 Oct 2013
Mental Health Minister rejects calls for more acute beds for children
NSW Minister for Mental Health has rejected calls for Wagga's new MH unit to accommodate mentally ill adolescents. The new 50 bed facility only offers one short term bed for adolescents. more...
Police to tackle mental health
by Emma Partridge Aug 1, 2013
Every front-line police officer across NSW will receive specialised mental health training, in a course to be introduced as early as next month, police say.
The one-day course for all beat police comes after several high-profile cases in recent years involving the fatal shooting of mentally ill people.
The mental health intervention course, to be run by NSW Police and NSW Health, will be the first of its kind in Australasia.
A team of 8 officers and nurses will travel to every police local area command in the state to deliver the training, which has been three years in the making. more...
Real work starts now at Endeavour Clubhouse
by Lisa Tisdell July 1, 2013
12 years of persistence to provide a life changing recovery clubhouse for people with mental illness has paid off but now the real battle begins. Supporters celebrated the Endeavour Mental Health Recovery Clubhouse building’s official opening on Friday in a culmination of more than a decade’s work. And although the building is ready, the next hurdle is to secure funding to support the vocational rehabilitation program. Recurrent funding is needed to cover staff and running costs.
Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW general manager of recovery Bill Gye encouraged the community to keep the pressure on for funding and to continue to support community fundraising efforts. “In many ways it’s great to have the building but now the real battle begins to get the operational funding,” he said. “We need the community to get behind that.” He said a lot depended on the community ensuring the operational funding was a high priority issue.
Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, the clubhouse auspicing body, is kicking in $25,000 to develop a business plan, which the Mid North Coast Local Health District has matched. It will take at least $300,000 annually for the clubhouse to operate effectively and up to $550,000 a year for the top of the line option.
The Hamilton Green building in Port Macquarie will be a safe place for people living with severe mental illness, Mr Gye said, where they could begin their journey to re-engage with the community. Clubhouses provide employment pathways in partnership with businesses to help people get back into the workforce, as well as social benefits. Mr Gye said the community needed and deserved the service. ...Full story - Port Macquarie News...
Mentally ill youth deserve far better government help
3 July, 2013 - by John Feneley NSW Mental Health Commissioner
Among the saddest experiences of my first year as NSW Mental Health Commissioner has been witnessing the desolation of parents who struggle to find care for their children in the early stages of severe mental illness.
It can appear to come out of the blue. A previously sociable teenager withdraws from friends, retreating into an impenetrable world. A young adult who has made the first steps towards independence loses their job as their behaviour becomes erratic. Worst of all are the terrible fears and torments that form the substance of psychotic illness; dreadful to watch, infinitely worse to experience......
But then comes a crisis in the middle of the night, when a terrified young person cannot be calmed and their behaviour threatens their own safety. The police may be called. An emergency hospital admission turns into an in-patient stay. This is a new level of complexity: a different group of doctors and nurses, new medications, social workers, and the huge question of what should happen next.
It is impossible to overstate how critical this time is. If medical, psychological and social services wrap protectively and sympathetically around them, there is a strong chance a young man or woman can be nurtured through a first episode of psychotic illness with minimal lasting consequences.........
......Over two years, in response to opportunities set out in former prime minister Julia Gillard's 2011 budget initiative on mental health, the NSW government developed a proposal for four new Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres across NSW, to give young people and their families a place to go in their acute distress.
The plan for an initial four such centres, with outreach, was developed by the people who best know the system - deeply committed clinicians who work in the NSW public mental health sector. They understood the federal government supported the direction of the plan and would provide funding to develop it.
Now NSW has been told by former federal mental health minister Mark Butler that it will be guaranteed just one such centre, to be run by Headspace, the organisation that has created successful local centres for youth experiencing depression, anxiety or drug or alcohol problems. The time frame for the centre and its model of care are unknown.
There are two issues here. First, a single centre could never realistically reach out across the 800,000 square kilometres of NSW to the hundreds of young people who experience a first episode of psychotic illness in any year.
Second, there is no evidence that the Headspace model is equipped to attempt this. Headspace has proved popular with young people experiencing more common and transient mental and emotional problems, who appreciate an environment designed for them. But the support of people with severe mental illness, which requires deep and lasting links with community, hospital, general medical and social services, is well outside its current realm of expertise. Few Headspace sites offer the specialist psychiatric, clinical psychologist or mental health nursing skills required.
Our federal and state governments share responsibility for health services. Successful delivery requires collaboration and partnerships. This about-face by the Commonwealth is a blow to young people and to their prospects of recovery. How can we justify such haphazard access to mental health care that could prevent a lifetime of misery and disability?.........
......The parents who contact me do not care whether services come from the Commonwealth or the state. ... Full story Sydney Morning Herald 3 July 2013
SBS 29th May 2013 - 8:10pm
Blue on Blue - How police deal with the mentally ill
"The voices said stand in a shadow the police can't get you, but they could, and they put me in a van and took me away." Andy Park goes behind the scenes with the NSW police to see how they are trained to deal with the mentally ill.
Remind Mental Health Training & Education, a service of Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, worked with the NSW Police Mental Health Intervention Team to help develop their training program. This program is expected to go National. Outcomes have been excellent for the MHIT and ideally many more police will also be trained in NSW.
2013 Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress - 28 May 2013
Schizophrenia Medication Debate:
Are Long Acting Injectables the Least Restrictive Alternative?
Affirmative Argument - Rob Ramjan CEO SFNSW
We know medication is critical to the treatment and outcome of schizophrenia. Most clinical practice guidelines note that there is a need for two years of consistent medication to avoid relapse or at least reduce the risk. There is very strong international evidence that people with schizophrenia do not take the medication they are prescribed. One major large study with 2588 people was A nationwide cohort study of oral and depot antipsychotics after first hospitalization for schizophrenia – Tiihonen (2011)1:
- 58.2% didn’t pick up a script in the 30 days following discharge
- Only 45.7% continued medication after 30 days
- Risk for rehospitalisation was three times greater for those on oral medication
- Risk of relapse after a first episode is very high, 54% over 24 months and as high as 82% over five years
- Ahn (2008) found only 14.8% of people were taking their medication as prescribed and a high 64.5% were non adherent
- Mahmoud (2004) found that well over 90% of people taking either first generation or second generation antipsychotics did not take their medication as prescribed. Over 12 months about one third of a year’s medication was not taken
- SFNSW's Tim Lambert has figures that suggest very few people actually take the medication as prescribed, under 10% after one month of treatment.
About ten years ago, the Fellowship organised a number of focus groups where we invited consumers to attend and give their views. These consumers varied from high functioning and in paid employment to consumers who were quite disabled by their illness. Each person was provided with information about injectable second generation medication, effects and side effects. We then asked their feelings about having their medication in an injectable form, always acknowledging that no medication will work for every person. We expected very mixed responses.
What amazed us was that there was universal agreement that an injectable was preferential. Consumers in those focus groups said it was convenient, non stigmatising, they wouldn’t forget to take it and it was less intrusive on their lives.
Injectables provide a point of choice for consumers. The WHO guidelines talk about the empowerment of people with mental illness. The consumer who is informed and makes a choice to take either tablets or an injectable is being treated in a more responsible and humane manner. This process of consultation and decision making can strengthen the therapeutic relationship. It is medication within a psychosocial education model of service delivery which empowers the consumer. Such a process moves us from concepts of medication adherence and compliance to concepts of collaboration and partnership.
Schizophrenia Medication Debate - RANZCP Congress 2013 - full transcript (pdf)
Support groups call for more help for children caring for mentally ill parents
28 May, 2013 by Sophie Scott and Gillian Bennett
It is called the hidden face of mental illness. While more than 2.5 million Australians care for someone with a mental illness, what is not widely known is that many of those are children caring for their parents.
Kevin Isaac and Sarah Rudduck look like typical uni students. But they are not. Both care for a parent with a serious mental illness.
"I've had to help do the shopping, make sure she doesn't spend too much money, look after my sister," Ms Rudduck said.
Mr Isaac has been caring for his mother Sharada, who has schizophrenia, since he was 10. "What doesn't kill you makes you a stronger person. Having to deal with this helps me deal with other things in life," he said.
Go to the full story - ABC News
NATIONAL SUMMIT on Addressing the Premature Death of People with a Mental Illness
24 May 2013, Sydney
The National Summit on Addressing the Premature Death of People with Mental Illness has called for a national approach to reverse the trend of people with serious mental illness dying on average 25 years earlier than the general population.
- The Summit affirmed the right of people with serious mental illness to have the same expectations for good health, wellbeing and quality of life as the general population and the same quality health care to achieve this.
- Recognition was given to existing effort being driven by clinicians and others at the front line of service delivery, including in the community managed mental health sector, who have long recognised the need for change in attitude and practice to ensure that all health needs of people with a mental illness are recognised and responded to.
- The Summit recognised that more needs to be done, building on this effort and drawing together our existing service structures and funding models to reverse the harms that have been occurring for too long in our communities.
The Summit identified the need to improve the physical health of people with serious mental illness by:
- recognising that people with mental illness must be heard, empowered and supported to take a central role and responsibility in their care;
- ensuring that health professionals understand and accept their responsibilities to consider and communicate the impact of treatment, including physical health and actively manage that treatment in partnership with the individual;
- acknowledging and respecting the important role of families and carers in the support, treatment and recovery of people with a mental illness;
- strengthening and respecting the role of peers including the peer workforce and other personal support networks in the support, treatment and recovery of people with a mental illness;
- requiring professionals from across the health system to identify and effectively respond to all health needs of people with a mental illness;
Read the full Physical and Mental Health Care Summit communique 24 May 2013
Read Kevin Humphries Media Release - NSW to head push to extend life expectancy of people with a mental illness
SFNSW and NSW rural Mental Health are the big winners in latest funding
more PHAMS sites and more PHAMS workers so we can help more people living with mental illness
The Fellowship has had a string of successes over the past few weeks. It started with learning that we had been assessed by the federal Department of Health and Aging as highly suitable to be the lead organisation for the new Partners in recovery program in South West Sydney. This is one of the largest PiR services in the country. We have a wonderful partnership with the Medicare Local and a number of other service providers in that area to deliver this program.
More very good news followed as we found we had been successful in a string of other programs. These are very big in the spread that it will give the Fellowship and a true acknowledgement of the work of so many of our people. We have just been successful in a massive number of new funded projects through the federal Department of Families and Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. In fact as I looked through the national list of successful tenderers, it appears that we have done very well across the board.
As Senator Mark Thistlethwaite said to me, “congratulations, this is proof that the Fellowship is doing it right, keep up the good work”.
We have been successful with the following:
- New PHaMS site: Bega Valley, Bombala, Snowy River, Cooma-Monaro, Tumbarumba
- New Mental Health Respite Carer Support Service: Goulburn, Mulwaree, Yass Valley, Upper Lachlan, Palerang, Wollondilly, Wingecaribee
- New PHaMS Employment Site: Wollongong, Shellharbour, Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven
- New PHaMS Employment Site: Campbelltown, Camden
- Additional PHaMS workers: Dubbo
- Additional PHaMS workers: Albury, Wagga Wagga, Lockhart, Corowa Shire, Greater Hume Shire
All of this added to the success with Partners in Recovery means that we will come very close to doubling our size and our ability to serve people with a mental illness and their families and carers.
I thank everyone who contributed to this fantastic outcome for the Fellowship, for us. I have been caught a lot in the office. I wish I could get to our many service sites more often, but as I was reminded when I recently visited our Day to Day Living service at North Ryde, the Fellowship has such an amazing group of people. I find over and over when I do get a chance to visit our services, what makes us successful is our staff and volunteers. Thank you all.
These successes mean a lot more work, but I am sure that each and every person will rise to the challenges. I am sure that we all seek the same outcomes – a better deal for our people. Thank you for that, it is a real privilege to be part of this exceptional organisation.
Rob Ramjan AM - CEO Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW Inc
7 May 2013 Wagga story by Caleb Taylor
LIVING with schizophrenia doesn't stop Matt Sainty from jogging 4-5 kilometres every day.
Nor does it stop him from holding down a serious job or from getting a biotechnology degree from RMIT University in Melbourne. All it means is Matt has to manage the mental health condition through a combination of medication and lifestyle choices in the same way a diabetic has to manage their condition.
by Liz Szabo - 16 Jan 2013 Link to full story
Obama Calls for Changes to Mental Health Care
Mental health advocates hailed President Obama's sweeping agenda to improve mental health care, part of his larger plan to reduce gun violence in the USA following the shooting last month in Newtown, Conn.
After decades of disappointment, advocates for the mentally ill said they are cautiously optimistic that the nation may finally take meaningful action to repair a broken system. "There are mental health professionals and educators cheering all over America," said Dewey Cornell, director of the Virginia Youth Violence Project, after reading Obama's plan. "No single action is going to solve the problem, but there are many actions here that will help."
Obama's speech — and his emphasis that most people with mental illness are not violent — will go a long way toward removing the stigma of mental illness, said Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He also welcomes a national dialogue on mental health, rather than simply another presidential commission. "These are things we've been asking for, for years," Fitzpatrick said.