Seriously are they joking? Unfortunately it appears not.
Services to support those suffering mental health conditions (both publicly funded as well as privately funded) are few and far between, especially in regional parts of the state. Our health workers are already over worked and now with the Federal Government rolling the mental health funding into the National Disability Insurance Scheme on the 1st of July this year, 150 jobs look set to go. These are very much needed, experienced and qualified mental health workers who are doing work in the community.
The Mental Health Coalition of South Australia’s Executive Director, Geoff Harris explains in an ABC article Fears NDIS delay will lead to ‘tsunami’ of job losses in SA Mental Health Sector (Monday 21st of May, 2018) that these mental health workers are supporting people to stay well and out of hospitals. If we lose a large portion of the funding for this service we will see an even larger pressure placed on our hospitals to handle acute mental health episodes.
As someone with lived experience in this I am mystified how this funding can be cut so dramatically. This time last year I was on the search for any type of support I could get to be able to stay at home on the Eyre Peninsular with my husband and three children. My mental health had deteriorate to the point I could not look after myself and our children independently. I knew about the funding that was apparently available, yet was informed by medical professionals that it sounds great in principle, but these services simply do not exist out here in regional SA. I was forced by the complete lack of services to leave the farm for a school term, take my kids out of school here and put them in school and childcare in Adelaide. By doing this I was also leaving the support of my husband, brother and sister in law and friends. This was the actions of someone desperate to get help and feeling very let down by the ‘system’. I know that I am lucky that we were able to do this, for many it would not be possible.
Knowing how limited and hard to access the services currently are, I am terrified of the consequences of theses services being dramatically reduced. It will literally kill some people. When the going gets tough, really tough what are you meant to do while you are waiting the weeks and months to get into professional help? Or how are you supposed to go on when an overworked, tired and ‘checked out’ mental health worker dismisses you and does not even offer you ANY support?
I am hoping that the Federal and State Government will realise that this will cripple those in need of mental health services in our communities. But really the ripple affect will be felt by all. The mental health clients in the community will be left with less service and have no option but to seek emergency services, and we know they are already clogged up and at crisis point.
Next week I am excited to attend an event in Port Lincoln called the 4th Sustainable Mental Health – Sustainable Communities Conference. I know that the NDIS and how it will be best utilised in rural areas of SA is an area to be discussed. Also I am really excited by the other topics to be covered, all focusing on an Open Mind. It sounds amazing and I only hope that my anxiety stays calm so that I can actually attend! I know how frustrating right?!?! Well fingers crossed.
I will report back after the conference with hopefully some amazing plans I learn about to support those with Mental Health Issues living outside of the CBD in South Australia.
Love and Peace,