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Archive for September 2017

Mental Health First Aid Course in Sale

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Media Release – September 12th 2017

Changes to be made at LRH

 

The Mental Health Complaints Commission (Complaints Commission) is recommending changes in the treatment of patients who are involuntarily confined in the psychiatric ward of the Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH).

 

In announcing this today, Derek Amos, Chairman of Barrier Breakers Inc., Gippsland’s mental health advocacy, said Barrier Breakers had made an official complaint to the Mental Health Commission over a denial of natural justice afforded to one of their clients who was appealing an Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO).

 

The Deputy Commissioner of the Complaints Commission has now advised Mr. Amos that LRH has been asked to adhere to the Mental Health Act 2014 to ensure that patients have a “Nominated Person” to protect their interests and that an “advanced statement” be provided to that person before any hearing to determine involuntary treatment or otherwise.

 

Mr. Amos said the implementation of this provision by LRH would vastly improve transparency in such cases and provide for greater protection of a patients’ rights by enabling a “Nominated Person” to have access to information and the opportunity to more properly advocate on the patients behalf.

 

“Nobody should be denied natural justice before any court or tribunal in the land and this rule applies to anyone, whether they be mentally ill or not”.

 

“Just because a person’s mental illness may render them incapable from clearly expressing themselves before a tribunal, does not mean in itself that the person should be judged to be incapable of adhering to a voluntary mental health plan”.

 

Mr. Amos said this was particularly relevant to those situations where authorities are demanding that a patient be placed on an ITO and where the patient is clearly capable of attending his/her GP and following a voluntary plan.

 

“Everyone should be entitled to advocacy representation in such circumstances to enable a tribunal to be in possession of all the facts before involuntary orders are decided”, Mr. Amos concluded.

 

For further information, please contact Derek Amos on 0428397706.

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Media Release – September 10th 2017

Tackling Suicide Head On

A major farmers lobby group and a Gippsland base mental health advocacy have joined forces to tackle suicide risk in rural areas.

 

With a program, especially designed to allow people to be more aware of the first signs of depression and anxiety and other forms of mental illness, Aussie Farmers Foundation and Barrier Breakers Inc. will be launching the first of four Mental Health First Aid course in Sale in October.

 

Derek Amos, Chairman of Barrier Breakers, said that Gippsland had one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation and that precursors to suicide – such as depression and anxiety – need to be addressed as a matter of some urgency.

 

He said, “Suicide is a major health concern, with suicide deaths averaging 2,687 over a five year period, and remains the leading cause of death for all Australians between the ages of 15 and 44”.

 

“2012 data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last month clearly shows that suicide rates in Central Gippsland exceed both the state and national average, with suicide rates for young Australians being the highest in 10 years.”

 

He said, “Given that major depression alone accounts for 50% of all suicide deaths, we need to recognise symptoms earlier and encourage sufferers to seek help before major depression sets in”.

 

Mr. Amos said, “With limited job opportunities, Gippsland had been hit hard of late with the closure and threatened closure of major industries, the Murray Goulbourn fiasco and a roller-coaster ride with milk prices and the continuing down-turn of the timber industry”.

 

In an endeavour to address possible depression caused by these issues, Aussie Farmers Foundation has provided Barrier Breakers with a grant to run a series of mental health first aid courses. The aim is to create a better understanding of mental illness by the first responders and/or other professionals called out to emergencies involving mental breakdowns, more sensitivity in such dealings and a greater understanding of mental illness by families, friends and carers.

 

Mr. Amos said, “The program is not only designed to address the key area of mental health for farming communities, but also their economic wellbeing”. He said this can be adversely affected by mental health issues, particularly when those issues are not addressed or are treated with a lack of understanding and sensitivity.

 

Sale-based Clinical Psychologist, Sarah Schluter, will conduct the courses, which will commence on Wednesday, 4 October in the Bond Street Events Centre, Sale. Bookings for the courses can be made at the Sale office of Barrier Breakers, 55 Raymond Street – Phone 51446002 or Barrier Breakers Traralgon office on 51744588.

 

Mr. Amos also took the opportunity to invite people to volunteer for Barrier Breakers at their Sale and Traralgon offices.

 

“Barrier Breakers is a community-based organisation – an incorporated association and tax endorsed charity. Our advocacy services are provided free of any charge and our funding comes from the community we serve”, Mr. Amos said.

 

“We provide free training for our volunteers and work with them in a friendly environment, which is richly rewarding, particularly when you see the smiles on the faces of those people who have been helped by our program”, Mr. Amos concluded.

 

For further information, please contact Derek Amos on 0428397706.

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