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Querying mental health funding

I’d like to tell you about some things that I’ve seen as a patient in this facility. It might help you understand why “consumers” might become “treatment resistant”, and why peer run advocacy groups argue so strongly for patient dignity. I’d like you to understand why giving people medication doesn’t always work, and funding beds in mental hospitals won’t stop people committing suicide.

People who work in mental health facilities have a tough job. They are often put in a position where they feel just as hopeless and degraded as the patients, except patients will eventually be released – the staff know that they are there voluntarily, being abused and abusing others.

I have seen male psych nurses reach into women’s tops to grab (illicit) cigarettes without a second thought for touching “consumers’” genital areas, seen three psych nurses drag a patient who worked nights into seclusion for refusing sleeping pills administered at 11pm to “help her form a routine”. I saw her resulting bruises.
I have seen psych nurses telling patients that “Temazapan isn’t addictive” – if they thought it was addictive, they might not take it. I’ve seen psych nurses tell a voluntary patient who lost a baby that she wouldn’t be allowed to leave if she didn’t stop crying, and joke later about restraining her. Would you trust mental health workers if you had been put in restraints as a punishment for crying after a miscarriage?

A man was collected from work by police for missing an appointment – because of work. The staff kept him in hospital to “stabilize” him for six weeks whilst he lost his job and his home. Would you leave hospital feeling more “stable” after that “treatment”?

That was a small selection from hundreds of stories. My own litany of complaints involves being medicated and sent home to rot, doctors believing the tormentor, ignoring their own paperwork that says don’t talk to this man, administering involuntary doses. What I needed, and eventually got elsewhere, was help to leave.

Nothing is simple, certainly not mental illness. But the “dose those lying psychos up with tranquilizers and blame their insanity for their objections to our treatment” strategy practised by mental health workers in NSW is degrading and pointless. These practices certainly do NOT need any more beds funded.

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