"My son Jack was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his early 20’s; he is now 33 years old. He has never accepted this diagnosis, is not fully aware of his condition, and is resistant to taking his medication. When he is well, Jack is a functioning individual.
In the early days of his illness he was treated through a youth mental health program and this led to good results. But after the age of 25, he could no longer access the program and his condition deteriorated. The current system – hospitalisation, followed by release on a community treatment order then discharge from the system with no further follow up – often fails. The ripple effect of this is huge. For every person with serious mental health issues, the effects on carers, employers, family members and members of the community are immense.
There is a big problem for carers in the way patients’ human rights are prioritised in the system. How can someone who has profound mental health issues make safe decisions about taking their medications or whether they need to be hospitalised? It is often the carers who have a much clearer idea of what the patient’s condition is and what the patient actually needs in terms of treatment. I can accept that we respect a patients’ human rights but does this mean that we let that person self-destruct?
It is also my experience that you very rarely will get a health care professional in the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (CATT) who displays any empathy for either the patient or the carer. They give a strong impression that they are just ‘doing the job’. You never know when the team is coming, or how long it will take for them to arrive. Often, a different team turn up at each incident and they work through a long question check-list which we have all been through countless times before.
I would strongly recommend that the Royal Commission considers the following measures to help improve the system.
* Names and places have been changed to protect individuals.
Will you add your voice to let everyone know about the state of the mental health system?
While we welcome you to share your story with us, we are not able to provide clinical advice, referrals or support. If you or someone you know require assistance or need to talk to someone please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.