A LACK of hospital beds for young mental health patients in WA has a dramatic effect on their welfare, Bassendean doctor John McAuliffe said.
He said the shortfall of beds at inpatient units was terrible and more needed to be done in the community to support those most vulnerable with hospital admission the last resort.
“Most psych patients are low risk, low maintenance but if people with mental health illnesses need to go into hospital they have to be really unwell.
“Often people are left in holding units in casualty departments because they can’t find anywhere to go. People end up in one-bedroom units by themselves and that’s not very healthy for someone who has had a major psychosis or major depression to recover, this has a dramatic effect on those with mental health illnesses.”
Acting Mental Health Minister John Day said an important part of the solution was the development of acute community services that could work with and support individuals to deal with acute crises at home and with their family, where possible,” he said.
“WA Health has a formal protocol for patient flow in mental health, which means that when there is pressure on mental health beds there is a rigorous process to actively support patients needing acute care.
“A major priority of planning now underway to meet future mental health needs in WA, is the provision of more services to support children and young people with mental illness and their families.
Opposition Mental Health spokesman Stephen Dawson said the number of young people committing self-harm was on the rise and the number of teenagers seeking treatment at hospital emergency departments had more than doubled in the past five years.
“It seems there’s lots of planning going on about the mental health system but very little action,” he said.
“It’s time for the State Government to immediately fund more youth mental health beds and tell us how they plan to fix the broken system.”
This article first appeared on Eastern Reporter on 22 July 2014