05 May 2016

Mental health industry a headache

Author :

All of us know someone who has experienced a mental health issue, some have experienced it ourselves. The fact that one in five Australians will deal with a  mental illness each year comes as little surprise, but the number of psychiatrists leaving the industry does.

Last year 25 per cent of psychiatrists said they were likely to leave their jobs within the next 12 months. This year that number has grown to 38 per cent, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Gary Galambos, Chair of the NSW branch of the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, described the delivery of mental health care as having become “quantity over quality, I’m afraid to say.”

“The experienced people are increasingly leaving,” he said.

Doctors and psychiatrists alike complain that mental health is often disregarded by government and consistently ranks last in hospital funding priorities.

This news is delivered alongside articles in The Guardian and ABC which reveal two of the highest risk groups for mental illness: children in care and middle-aged men.

According to a report by the House of Commons education committee, almost half of children in care have a diagnosable mental illness. These children are also four times more likely than their peers to experience such disorders.

Children without stable placement, however, are often denied access to mental health services due to lack of stable placement. The Guardian cites a case of a 16-year-old foster child who waited over two and a half years to access these services because she was moved 13 times in that period.

In comparison, middle-aged men are likely to experience social isolation, loneliness and depression due to a lack of a social network. Outside of their immediate family, many middle-aged men lack friendships which go beyond the barista who knows their coffee order.

Though we are working to demolish the social archetypes which once required ‘men to be men’, we still see reluctance from a majority of men to admit their condition to their families, let alone a psychiatrist.

What we are left with is a mental health landscape which demands increased speciality services and begs for policy reform. What we have, though, are the most crucial people in this situation being driven from their work.

Ironically, the awareness of mental health has erupted with events such as World Mental Health Day and the recent ‘To Write Love on her arms Day’. We are encouraged from our primary school years to confide in those we trust and seek out help.

We are told we are not alone, yet the crew are abandoning the ship. 

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

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