Kelly in the Media

Weatherill Labor Government failing South Australians with mental illness

The Weekender Herald: herald comment

October is the designated month for recognising mental illness. On World Mental Health Day last Saturday, Dignity for Disability, the Greens and Liberal Opposition joined forces to demand a better deal for South Australians with mental illness, particularly those with a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis.

In the past two years at least eight young women have died by suicide here in Adelaide after not receiving adequate treatment for their BPD.

This is a figure the government should be ashamed of. It is time for the Mental Health Minister to take action and fund a state-wide service for personality disorders.

We urgently need a more holistic approach to mental illness in this state.

It is shameful that people are on waiting lists for up to two years for treatment for BPD in this state. Families are shattered by the loss of a member through preventable suicide. The government are not innocent bystanders in this scenario.

BPD is referred to as the ‘Cinderella of mental illnesses’ by mental health professionals because it is a complex mental illness that is so often misdiaghosed and maligned.

The Weatherill Labor Government continues to stand in the way of much-needed reforms. Last year every non-Labor MP in the upper house voted in support of a state-wide specialised borderline personality disorder service being established immediately in SA based on the strengths of Victoria’s BPD Spectrum service.

People with BPD face a double dose of stigma, neglect and discrimination because the condition is not well understood.

A dedicated state BPD service would alleviate this and take pressure off our hospital EDs saving both money and lives.

More than 18 months ago the Labor Government made an election promise to give South Australians a Mental Health Commission (MHC).

They promised that funding would be provided in the last two budgets. That promise was broken. Here we are in Mental Health Month and there’s still no action on a MHC.

We need to establish a MHC now, and ensure it is independent, strongly focussed on consumers and their family members, and that due process is undertaken for selecting the leadership of the Commission.

The Government’s attitude towards mental health is disgraceful. Their Transforming Health plans makes no reference to specialist mental health services, showing what a low priority it remains to the Labor Government. SA needs a detailed plan on how to meet the needs of people with BPD both through generic and specialist BPD services.

Kelly Vincent MLC, Dignity for Disability