LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has thrown his support behind the campaign for an Adolescent Mental Health Ward in Cairns, encouraging people to sign the petition at his Grafton St office.
The petition was launched last week by the Declan Crouch Fund and the Dr Edward Koch Foundation, to lobby the region’s three State MPs for a much-needed ward at Cairns Base Hospital dedicated to the care of youth up to the age of 25 years.
“I understand the petition has already gained almost 5000 signatures but Declan’s mum Ruth Crouch is aiming for 10,000 signatures and I want to help her achieve that,” Mr Entsch said. “Copies of the petition are available for people to sign in my office at 102 Grafton St and I’d urge everybody to make their voice heard on this.
“Mental illness and suicidal behaviour among young people is a growing problem and it’s vital that they have somewhere to go, where they can access supportive and relevant services in their local area.”
Mr Entsch said he has been closely involved with several cases that illustrated all too well the shortage of available services and suicide prevention measures, most recently the tragic death of 20-year-old Shelby Fullalove in February 2012.
“And just last week, I had a letter from a local mother who is desperate for some kind of outcome,” he said. “She has a 15-year-old daughter in the Adult Mental Health Unit at Cairns Base Hospital, with little treatment other than medication and containment.
“This is totally inappropriate and is clearly contributing to her daughter’s declining mental health. Nobody would argue that being placed in an adult mental health ward or a paediatric ward is beneficial to the well-being of vulnerable young people.”
At the Federal Government level, Labor has contributed to the growing mental health crisis by ripping $580.5 million from GP mental health services and allied health treatment sessions that were available to families through the Better Access Program. These changes were made without consultation with practitioners and have caused widespread community concern.
In contrast, the Coalition’s 2010 election policy was $1.5 billion for Mental Health, comprising the following initiatives;
· The establishment of 20 Early Psychosis Intervention Centres in major metropolitan and regional areas providing healthcare aimed at recovery and prevention of relapse;
· Providing 800 beds for acute and sub?acute care specifically to support the Early Psychosis Intervention Centres; and
· Funding an additional 60 headspace sites providing one?stop?shops for young people with information and services relating to general health and wellbeing, mental health and alcohol and drug services.
The petition can be signed in Mr Entsch’s office between the hours of 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. To view the letter from Ruth Crouch to the State MPs, click here.
To view a speech by Mr Entsch in parliament on National Suicide Prevention Week, click here.