The New South Wales Minister for Mental health has rejected calls for the region’s new mental health unit to accommodate mentally ill adolescents.
The new 50 bed facility only offers one short term bed for adolescents.
The Minister Kevin Humphries admits it can be difficult for people in rural areas who have to travel long distances for acute treatment.
But he says the government’s resources, priorities and care models should be driven back into community based treatment.
“We’re not in the business of building more in-patient acute beds,” he said.
“At least half the people that have defaulted to that system in the past could be better catered for and cared for in the community.”
“What we really should be doing is pushing back and making sure that our care models are more robust back in the community.”
The Principal Official Visitor under the Mental Health Act in New South Wales, agrees with the minister.
Jan Roberts says child and adolescent mental health is complex, and the aim is to keep young people out of mental health facilities and care for them in the community.
“There’s time when that can’t happen and a situation escalates where a child or an adolescent needs to have short term mental health services in an inpatient setting,” she said.
“So whilst I believe we should be aspiring to have a separate child and adolescent in wagga an inpatient one, it will be quiet a way down the track.”
This article first appeared on ABC Online 28 October, 2013.