Told you so – it’s an ongoing crisis in Public-system Mental Health Care

I told you so.

We are talking the Public Mental Health-care system. Like for people like myself – who need to bulk bill appointments – on the Disability Pension, in the NDIS, recieving Centrelink payments.

Quotes that stood out to me and are summeries:

“We really need to take a step back and look at how significantly disadvantaged our mental health care patients are and the fact that that’s getting worse for them and really re-prioritize our resources and do something about this right now.”

“What is absolutely causing despair amongst staff and their patients is the sense that you know what care these patients need, you know how quickly they need to continue their specialised mental health treatment, you know how important it is for them to be in an environment that’s safe and appropriate for them, but you can’t make that happen.

“Yes, we absolutely need investment in community mental health and in preventative mental health.We need GP-led collaborative care. That is really clear.”

“…we need all of the recommendations, the plans, the promises that are being made around Australia to deal with acute mental health illness both in the community but also in the public hospital setting, to be implemented right now.”

“We need the Federal Government to commit right now to an increase in public hospital funding to 50 per cent share with the states, so a 50-50 share. We need to remove that 6.5 per cent cap that prevents some of the state governments putting in the additional funding that they know is needed.”

How are you reading and filtering the below sentance?

“…we’ll need specialised mental health admission to a unit and a bed with staff that are absolutely expert in treating that person’s mental illness in an environment that’s safe and appropriate for them…”

How are you filtering it so its understandable to you? Not as bad as it seems?

This is not health care paid for with money. From my bank account. This is also not care that insurance will rebate me for later.

This is a free service, to people who can’t afford to pay – especially up front – or via a medicare rebate.

Lets take an example from my life, this year, in Feburary. Recieved just over $500 for my weekly disability pension. Psychologist visited me at home – who couldn’t do an almost-instant EFTPOS Medicare rebate. I paid $200 for that session on Feb 3rd. I received a reimbursment on Feb 11th.

My rent was $210. Session $200. Leaving me with about $100 for food and bills that week.

Thank god my sister had organised all expenses paid respite that week.

My cash allowance during respite was $200 cash, which, as a 40 year old, was weird and physically hard to hold out my hand and receive a portion of.

We had left in a rush because I couldn’t pack beforehand. I left my wallet at home – because we were rushing.

I’m agoraphobic, don’t drive or have a car, taxis can be awful whether its a 40 min wait on the home trip, or driver attitudes.

So “doctor shopping” isn’t an option.

A couple of years ago, or last year, I visited a local GP, closer to home.

Wanted to introduce myself, transfer my medical records, and have my anti-depressant script refilled.

It was good but confusing, but I figured every new medical interacrion has teething problems.

Didn’t get the script. Off with a support worker probably to my regular GP. Who informed me that my hopefully-new- local GP had labled me a “drug seeker” who was “doctor shopping”.

Not pain killers. Not sedatives. Anti-depressants.

Imagine you are on basic Centrelink benefits approx $500 fortnight. How much is your rent now? How much would be left over after you’ve paid your rent? Gotten a medicare rebate from your GP visit? From a Psychologist visit? How could you pay rent and pay for a Psychiatrists appointment?

This is what is facing millions on the dole, Austudy, Abstudy, living away from home allowance, parent payment.

I am on the disability pension. Everything in healthcare is user-pays, co-payment, not compatable with NDIS, the cruel medical-specialist-allergic NDIS – or – the public health system.

Now read on. Then read this all again.

I was given the run around trying to get my medical records transfered, was told a complete transfer would cost $50, and generally got the sense that I was not welcome there.

Waiting rooms are their own kind of hell, where I’m hypervigilant. I would love to put on an audiobook or music and be in my own little world, but its not an option. I am told repeatedly – I’ve missed the appointment or person. I’m now later in the queue and have to ensure I hear my name being called.

“In the early ’90s Australia, like many countries around the world, decided it was more appropriate, and if we could invest more in community healthcare for mental illness and preventative care, that we should be able to reduce the need for admissions to specialised psychiatric institutions

… we haven’t invested what we needed to in community and preventative care to actually decrease the number of people needing admissions…”