Mental Health blow out. WTF? Mental health shamefully underfunded.

It was about this time last year my cousin Jim, in his 50’s received the news he’d been accepted into university to study behavioral science. He’s taken to it like a luvvy to latte and got straight As in his first year.

When I asked Jim (who’s marriage breakdown lead him to psychotherapy to deal with the rage, blame and control created by the emotional trauma of being raised by very damaged people) why he wanted to be a psychologist he replied, “I want to stop any more dads throwing their children off the Westgate Bridge.”  Which is what happened this time last year. “Why did he do it?” people asked at the time, desperately trying to make sense of an irrational action with devastating consequences that came from something broken deep inside he may not have even known was broken and if he did, could not find the tools to fix.  “Because he was sick,” I’d answer.  “No other reason. He was sick and not getting effective treatment. That’s not what healthy people do.”

When I told some girlfriends about my brave and beautiful cousin’s mission, my mate Sue said “When Jim’s finished his degree can you ask him why men only do something when it’s too late?”

Mental Health Blowout The Age Saturday January 30 moaned “Medicare spending on psychological therapy blowing our by $1.5 billion by 2011, twice it’s allocation.”

What?  How about “The constant underestimation of the enormous social costs of metal illness and the medieval attitude towards people suffering mental illness to  “get over themselves, stop whinging and get on with it like the rest of us” has lead to the realization that the pitiful amount of money allocated to deal with this important issue is nowhere near enough.”

Blowout.  Loaded term number one.   How can it be a “blowout?” The budget is arbitrarily created.  You can allocate amounts however you like just because something is under funded doesn’t mean it’s absorbing more resources than it needs.

One in 5 people suffer mental illness.  And they always have.  This is not some ‘recent development’.   Mental health is under funded and under resourced. Can anyone tell me of anything more important we can put our resources into than investing in the mental health of our community?

“The blowout wlll put pressure on this year’s budget. “

Pressure.  Loaded term number two.  I don’t remember reading about how the government propping up private health funds is putting ‘pressure’ on the health budget.  Or the huge rise in caesarians due to the government’s doctor pandering despite mountains of evidence to towards midwife care is blowing out the health budget.

And who knows how much pressure it’s taking off people suffering mental illness and their families.

There are concerns the Federal Government hasn’t released any evidence that the consultations are improving mental health.  Which doesn’t mean they don’t have any any. And just because they don’t have any evidence, or have evidence to the contrary that doesn’t mean it’s not helping.  Maybe it’s not visible yet, maybe they’re not asking the right questions or looking in the right places. Emotional corrosion takes a long time to set in and a long time to fix.   Mental illness is something you often can’t  “see” until it’s too late. It’s possible you can’t see the benefit if it’s too early.

There are concerns therapies are failing to reach men and young people.  It’s imperative we deal with this swiftly and effectively.  But not by taking the resources away from people who are being treated and gaining benefit.  Many of these people are women needing treatment to deal with the sickness of the men and the young people they are supporting. Mental illness can be contagious contracted via the emotional pollution it creates.

Women are often the soul support for many men and young people who suffer mental illness because they don’t get professional help. This support often lessens the urgency for them to seek assistance. It’s a huge burden for these women. And not effective.  Most women have no mental health training. It’s a fine line between supporting and enabling destructive behavior.

Many people have approached me asking why no one is talking about the crisis in men’s mental health and urging me to say something. They usually suggest women are going to have to do something about it because the men can’t or won’t.

But it’s not a women’s job.  Many are doing it and clearly it’s not working.

A bloke recently pleading with me to write about in the men’s mental health crisis told me he recently attended a launch of a book navigating Men’s Midlife Crisis. 40 or so people turned up. All but two were women, and the two men were both psychologists.

One thing that can happen with the increased access to therapy is a shift in cultural change and a reduction in stigma which will normalize the equation, and help men and young people to access mental health support.  Changing the thought from “I need to be strong and not ask for help.  Instead I will self medicate with work, sex, drugs, blame and denial because I am scared of what will happen if I sit in a chair and open up” to  “I am hurting the people around me and detonating my life maybe I need to talk to someone.  That’s what I’ve seen other people around me do.”

Article from The Age on Mental Health Blow Out. 


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