A TWEED Mental Health Carer and Geoff Jones discuss the need for reform in the mental health system.
A TWEED Mental Health Carer and Geoff Jones discuss the need for reform in the mental health system.

Mental health crisis

By ED SOUTHORN

CARERS of children and partners with mental health problems have called for more access to psychiatric help and inpatient beds, greater recognition of close family relationships and cheaper medication.

The Daily News attended a meeting of the Tweed Valley Mental Health Carers Network to hear carers' concerns first-hand.

The carers praised local health workers' efforts but called for more resources to cope with complex mental health problems.

Geoff Jones said parents in some cases needed to be given a greater role in providing advice for medical decisions.

He said mental health carers needed respite care and more suitable housing for people with mental health problems was required.

As well, workplace and living skills, assistance was needed for people recovering from psychotic episodes.

"The medical profession is at the stage where it is possible for people with mental illness to live normal lives," Mr Jones said.

"We should not accept anything less."

Another carer at the meeting said education authorities did not provide enough support for medicated students with mental health problems and more prescription drugs ought to be available on the pharmaceutical benefits system.

Other carers revealed psychiatrists and inpatient beds for younger patients were not available enough in the Tweed.

Network chair June Saville said privacy and mental health laws caused "insurmountable barriers to meaningful communication" between families and health workers, making it difficult for treatment programs to be followed.

In some cases, families were kept in the dark about discharge dates, court appearances and treatment orders, she said.

A blueprint for reform of the mental health system is expected by June.

Contact the Tweed Valley Mental Health Carers Network by phoning (07) 5506 7336.



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