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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

mental health « Previous | |Next »
February 10, 2005

It is not often I agree with Miranda Devine but I do this time. Her op. ed on mental health is bang on target. She hopes that the Cornelia Rau case forces the longstanding disaster of our treatment of the mentally ill to the top of the national political-media agenda. So do I.

Devine says:

But far from being an anomaly, [Cornelia Rau's] tragic case is the norm for many psychiatric patients. They lurch from one psychotic episode to another, and wind up in the jail system, which has evolved over the past decade or so into a de facto mental institution without adequate treatment facilities.

Devine highlights two problems in the treatment of the mentally ill. The first is that:
A national shortage of acute-care psychiatric beds means psychiatrists in public hospitals have had to "raise the bar" on just how ill a person needs to be before being admitted.

The other problem is that:
...there is no systematic provision of community-based, hostel-style accommodation, offering various types of support for the mentally ill as their illness fluctuates. For instance, attached to Cumberland Hospital in the 1980s, says Barclay, were "villa wards", a type of hostel with 20 patients, each in their own room, with a central kitchen where patients could be served or prepare their own meals, and a clinic where a nurse supervised medication and kept an eye on them.

These problems indicate that primary mental health care should be a key policy priority as it the ssytem is close to collapse and urgently in need to revitalisation and additional resources.

Most Australians who seek help mental health problems usually see their GP first. However, Australia has only begun to take primary mental health care seriously and only begun to link it to allied health and mental health experts.

There ought to be a Senate inquiry on this issue set up before 30th June. Will the ALP have the political courage to take up the motion of the Australian Democrats to set up an inquiry?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:35 AM | | Comments (6)


That is what irks me most about the Devine Miss M. She sometimes comes out with a column that is damn reasonable that you suspect higher cognitive powers.

And have you noticed you are coming across the following phrase more often?

"It is not often I agree with Miranda Devine but.."

Let's hope we don't see the same thing happening to Gerard Henderson! ;-)

I don't have much problem with a commentator being a conservative rather than a left liberal. We desparately need lots of different voices in the public sphere.

The key question is whether the commentator uses their political philosophy to talk sense on key public issues and so help us to understand it better.

Devine does this on mental health. She is unable to do this on the environment.

Henderson would use the issue of mental health to continue the culture wars and attack the liberal left.

He would not address the mental health issue itself, nor help to get it on the public policy agenda.

There's no doubting her smarts. It's just whether she chooses to play the hackery lackey role for her betters or whether she has the independence of spirit to think thru her own position. I suspect that the treatment of mental health has no free market implications to her mind.

Spot on about Henderson. He'd paint a picture of a system run amok upon slavish pomo adherence to Foucaultian thinking about the establishment's repressive definitions of madness. Or some such opportunistic and mendacious revision.

I reckon that Henderson fancies himself as a neocon thinker:- an Australian version of Irving Kristol perhaps?

The Sydney Institute has an old-fashioned air about it. It has no online presence at all. Not even an online archive.

Henderson has a poor grasp of politics. I heard him say recently on Radio National explaining how the ALP needed to move to the middle because Latham had taken them to the Left.

Huh? Latham's own political instincts are free market plus social conservatism. When did that become the Left?

And "the middle" is a dubious political concept