Lack of mental health care for son

CARMEL is a down to earth mother whose son is sick. Like most mothers she just wants the best for her 17-year-old at his time of dire need.

She knew instinctively when her boy took a turn for the worst.

Even after her GP diagnosed him with depression, her concerns were not allayed. When he swallowed 14 pills, the Maryborough mum took emergency action.

In the space of a day she saw a counsellor, a psychiatrist and had her son admitted to Maryborough Hospital until he could be moved to Brisbane for specialist treatment.

“He was going downhill fast that day. I knew there was something drastically wrong with him.” .

While she appreciated the hospital’s efforts to accommodate her son at short notice, she was struck by an apparent dearth of services.

“I worked at the hospital when I left school. Maryborough was a great hospital. But they’ve just taken everything away. It’s disgraceful.

“It’s just not catering for anyone at the moment.”

Carmel says she was told there were no inpatient beds at Hervey Bay and just the one adult ward at Maryborough Mental Health Unit.

The Fraser Coast Mental Health Service, in fact, provides acute inpatient care for the treatment of mental illness, with 14 mental health beds based at Maryborough Hospital.

There are adult community mental health teams based at both Maryborough and Hervey Bay, as well as child and youth mental health community teams.

Carmel has written a letter describing her experience, which Maryborough MP Chris Foley has promised to deliver to Health Minister Paul Lucas.

“There is not enough known about mental health,” Carmel says.

Wide Bay health service chief Beth Norton said yesterday that any member of the community could seek treatment from the mental health service.

“Voluntary and involuntary assessments are not subject to a waiting list,” she said. “The service operates under a triage system whereby people are prioritised according to their current situation.

“Some services are highly specialised and require patients to be transferred so they can access the most appropriate care. To this end, specialist child and youth inpatient beds are provided at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.”

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