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As I’ve mentioned previously, I care for two disabled people, 24x7x365. That’s way fuller than full-time. That’s all the time, and I do other things where I can. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of exposure to people with mental health problems, as well as many GPs and mental health professionals in Victoria.

Now, unlike those professionals, I’ve had no training, nor do I carry any qualification. I just have to keep getting things right in good times, in bad times and during crises, when they occur. Time after time. I’ve had extensive opportunities to compare and contrast how I deal with people who have mental health problems against how the professionals do it.

And I can tell you right now, that at least seven out of ten professionals in Victoria’s Mental Health industry are no better at dealing with a symptomatic patient than any random Jane or Joe off the street.

I kid you not.

General Practitioners, nurses, psychiatrists… they’re fine so long as the patient is in a relatively normal state.

As soon as the patient starts exhibiting the symptoms of their condition … honey, you might as well be talking to a mailman or a barista as to a licensed practitioner. If these people were ever trained in how to deal with the mentally ill, then most of them have seemingly forgotten everything they know about it or are unable to put any of it into practice.

I’ve had my charges insulted, yelled at, and bullied. During a psychotic episode where we were seeking professional assistance at a local Emergency Department, the triage nurse simply yelled, “Stop crying or you’ll have to leave.”

I filed a complaint the next day. Got a reference number and was promised a call back about resolution of the complaint “in one month.”

When no call came, I contacted them again. There was, they said, no record of the complaint or the reference number. Too much time had passed, now, and they would not be able to follow it up or identify the staff member, they added.

Anxiety? Depression? Extreme agitation? Uncontrollable akathisia? The usual response is a demand that the patient “cheer up” and “behave normally” or be denied both attention and treatment. Of course if the patient could do these things simply by being told to, no treatment would actually be necessary!

So, by my rough statistical count, you could replace 70% of Victoria’s mental health professionals with taxi drivers, bartenders, checkout operators and janitors… and the level of care for the mentally ill in the state would remain about the same.

As for the remaining 30% or so? Good luck finding those. You’ll need it. You can be hunting for years to find one who remembers how to actually do the job.

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Categories: Health, Opinion.

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