Callous disregard for others’ suffering is worse than a mental illness, Minister

Memo Labor – this is not enough:

Mental health experts say Labor’s proposed suicide prevention measures do not address essential reform needed in the mental health system.

Today Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that a re-elected Labor government would spend $277 million to help people at risk of suicide.

And she said the Government would be willing to commit to a longer-term mental health plan, with the issue to be a second-term priority for Labor.

Ah, the old Labor “we won’t promise anything, but maybe we’ll consider doing something about that issue you care about after the election” ruse. I can’t believe people still fall for it.

Meanwhile, whilst unfortunately I can’t go into specifics about the injustices that our stretched and inadequate mental health services present at court on a regular basis – trust me when I say it’s a serious problem. We have people forced to choose between housing and health services. People stuck in jail for petty offences because no treatment facilities can be found. It’s a cruel and false economy, that wrecks vast numbers of lives and imposes huge costs on our community in terms of crime and poverty.

Even the Liberals are promising to put some sorely-needed funds into improving the system, Prime Minister. Is “we’ll look at suicide and maybe consider something else later” really the best you can do?

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6 responses to “Callous disregard for others’ suffering is worse than a mental illness, Minister

  1. jordanrastrick

    Yeah, Labor’s been piss weak on Mental Health.

    Rudd dropped the ball on Health by focusing on funding at the expense of structural reform, and that’s pretty much left Gillard with no room to maneuver in the context of the campaign.

    Well, at least there’ll be a consolation prize if Abbott wins government; and Mendoza’s very timely resignation which sparked this as an election issue is clearly going to have some lasting good – the spotlight has made the major parties sit up and take notice, which will eventually translate into dollars one way or the other.

  2. jordanrastrick

    Gay Marriage post: 25 comments.

    Laurie Oakes post: 9 comments.

    Party Leaderships post: 23 comments.

    Mental Health post: 1 comment.

    Sigh. Even amongst progressives who read political blogs, this seems to be a non-issue.

  3. It might just be that the others are more controversial.

    I doubt anyone seriously disputes that we need to spend a great deal more on mental health services.

  4. jordanrastrick

    Maybe. Until Mendoza resigned though, the fact that Mental Health got a billionth of one percent of the funding in Rudd’s “health reform” package went completely under the radar. If no one seriously disputes we need to spend more, its quite mysterious that we’re not yet doing so.

    Where’s the pile-on of all the Greens supporters who read your blog and love a chance to bag out Labor? There was plenty of that for Penny Wong, with little controversy except myself and I think one other person playing devils advocate.

    If I were in a selfish mood on election day, I’d vote 1 Liberal House of Reps and 1 Greens 2 Liberal in the Senate, because that’s clearly the best way to achieve more federal mental health funding in this election.

  5. Splatterbottom

    If no one seriously disputes we need to spend more, its quite mysterious that we’re not yet doing so.

    It is not mysterious at all. Unfortunately most people suffering from mental illness are unable or unlikely to vote, or even to complain about their plight. In the world of thought bubble policies where spin trumps substance every time it is a miracle that either of the major parties are proposing to do anything at all.

    There are many areas of human trauma that are too easily kept under the carpet through a combination of shame or ‘it won’t happen to me’ bravado. The way we deal with these issues is a measure of the moral integrity of our society.

  6. jordanrastrick

    “It is not mysterious at all. Unfortunately most people suffering from mental illness are unable or unlikely to vote, or even to complain about their plight”

    That’s only true if you insert the word “severe” in front of “mental illness.” A massive proportion of the population in a given year suffers some form of mental illness, such as mild depression, just as most will have at least a minor physical ailment even if its only a cold rather than a life threatening or debilitating condition.

    The proportion of the chronically mentally ill so incapacitated as to be unable to ever vote would be very low – I’d guess substanitally less than half of the total population of most severe DSM Axis I & II disorders. That leaves a very large number of people who suffer a lot of disadvantage in life due to ongoing psychiatric conditions, but are still quite capable of filling in a ballot paper once every few years.

    I think mental illness as an issue lacks not a voter base so much as effective lobbying for public and government awareness, due to lingering stigma and what not. Fortunately high-profile psychiatrists, and mental health advocacy groups, are learning fast about how to get attention and hence resources.

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