||Issue No. 245||05 November 2004|
What’s In a Name?
Interview: The Reich Stuff
Economics: Crime and Punishment
Environment: Beyond The Wedge
International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Politics: Labo(u)r Day
Human Rights: Arabian Lights
History: Labour's Titan
Review: Foxy Fiasco
Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
The Locker Room
Let's Start A New Party
Five Steps to Sanity
A survey of more than 600 doctors, nurses, police, health, community services, and emergency workers revealed a lack of dedicated resources was causing problems for people living with mental illness and the workers left to pick up the pieces.
Survey results, released by the new Mental Health Workers Alliance, showed:
- More than 90 percent of police officers said caring for mentally ill people was affecting their ability to do core policing work
- More than 80 percent of nurses estimated the occupancy rates of beds dedicated for mental health patients was 100 percent or above
- More than 60 percent of doctors said they felt pressured to prematurely discharge mental health patients into the community and almost 70 percent were unable to find a beds when needed in the past three months
- Some 80 percent of ambulance officers, hospital registrars, social workers and other health and emergency workers listed bed availability, staffing, and resources as major issues impacting on care for mental illness sufferers.
As well as highlighting what is wrong with the mental health system the Mental Health Workers Alliance has a plan for putting the problems right. As part of its Five Step Program for a Saner Mental Health System the Alliance is calling for:
1. Appropriate funding for mental health by increasing the mental health proportion of the State health budget to at least 12%, as recommended by the Mental Health Council of Australia, and for mental health expenditure to be transparent and quarantined.
2. Better resourcing for long term supported accommodation options for all
people with mental illnesses, including homeless people.
3. Increasing the capacity of inpatient units and community services to guarantee 24 hour access to those in need of treatment.
4. Appropriate crisis care, including 24 hour mental health expertise in emergency departments and community teams, to alleviate pressure on front line emergency services.
5. Addressing the problems of recruitment and retention in the sector by providing incentives to enter employment, enhancing access to training schemes, and providing support for learning and development opportunities.
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson praised the Mental Health Workers Alliance for coming together to ensure workers' voices on the issue would be heard.
"This study shows that government policies on mental health impact not just on those chiefly charged with caring for them but that it affects workers throughout the health and emergency fields.
"A failure to adequately resource the mental health sector is contributing to clogged emergency departments, an insufficient number of community and long-stay facilities, and overburdened police and emergency services."
The MHWA is a joint initiative of the Nurses Association, the Police Association, the Health Services Union, the Australian Services Association, and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation.
To find out more about the MHWA or to subscribe to the Alliance's e-bulletin visit http://www.labor.net.au/campaigns/mhwa/mhwa.html
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