Letters to the Editor

The horrors of a mental health system that is not coping

Thank you for your recent article highlighting the devastating statistics on suicide in Australia and why we do indeed need to talk about it. Articles such as this help to remove the shame and taboo surrounding the topic and are a balm to those affected by such tragedies in knowing that they are not alone.

 CRISIS: The gap between involuntary admission and those who are actively seeking help for mental health problems is turning lives into nightmares.

CRISIS: The gap between involuntary admission and those who are actively seeking help for mental health problems is turning lives into nightmares.

As a mother to a son who has attempted suicide and who discusses the possibility of future attempts, my heart cries out for more to be done to prevent this from ever happening. My son could be considered to be in a high risk category as he is twenty-one, gay (with a history of being physically and emotionally bullied due to being gay) has Asperger's Syndrome and depression. He does not like how anti-depressants make him feel and has given up on therapy of any kind. His only way of coping has been to turn to drugs, which of course have damaged his health even further.

When my son was recently talking about suicide as his only option, I contacted the Psychiatric Services desperate for advice. As he refused to present himself for an assessment as he lacks the perspective of how unwell he is, nothing could be done. Like so many others in his situation, my son is unfit to be in charge of decisions about his own mental health because of the very fact that he is mentally unwell. This is the dilemma that we keep returning to. I was told to keep a close eye on him and remove sharp or dangerous objects from his view. Psychiatric services would not act unless he was in the process of hurting himself or someone else. If that was the case, I was advised to call the Police as they were accustomed to handling such matters. The people from Psychiatric services that I spoke to were caring and concerned, I could not blame them for this outrageous inadequacy. I was told that their services were overloaded and obviously stressed. My son had no hope of help of any kind unless he admitted himself or had already harmed himself.

It seemed to me such a ludicrous idea of trying to patch something up after waiting for it to be broken. What if someone is too broken and we find them too late? It feels like we are neglecting the most vulnerable in our community. This is what suicide is, a cry for help that has not been fully understood or acted upon as a matter of the highest priority.

Name withheld. 

Banks need to go easy on old people too 

A point for the Labor Party to consider about their fight with the four big banks is that it is not the banks money they are using to lend to home buyers, it is the term deposits of self funded retirees they are mainly lending out to the home buyers.

The self-funded retirees have had their investment funds interest on term deposits cut to less than half over the past three or four years so home buyers can get lower interest on their home loans without it hurting the banks.

The hurt is felt by the self funded retirees. Home builders should consider moving to regional towns where costs are less than half of metropolitan areas. Loans would be less and in turn term deposits could move back up a bit.

Don Woodward, Brown Hill

Toward a dementia friendly Ballarat

We recently launched our #Bigger Hearts, (www.celebrateageing.com/bigger-hearts) Demential Friendly Ballarat campaign.Since then we've been working with local service providers and others to encourage people with dementia to join in dementia friendly activities. We've also been spreading the word amongst local business owners and organisations about how to become more dementia aware and more welcoming of people with dementia in cafes, hotels, banks and stores. It takes time for all parties to engage confidently with each other.