Mental health, in all its polarization, blows my mind. I’ve written about it a few times, both on this blog and others, so it will come as no surprise that I’ll continue to barrow push about it until I lose mine — my blog that is, hopefully not what’s left of my mind.
A few years ago, the Australian Government introduced a health scheme that allows Aussie citizens a certain number of psychological visits per annum for nuffin. If it’s worked through a GP, those in need are able to access counselling without stressing too much about the financial burden.
Great move! Something productive, practical and an acknowledgment that mental illness affliction isn’t based upon socioeconomic standing.
Today, I need to vent a little about intervention. Basic human rights and laws exist to protect the individual. We can’t simply reach out and grab people off the street, intervening in their lives, their minds, their existences.
I understand this. Commonsense tells us that this could never be the case, no matter what the situation.
However, there are times during the insidious onset of a psychotic episode when intervention would be most beneficial, allow the mentally ill patient faster recovery and lend support to the primary carers. Red tape (and the rights of the individual) prevent this from happening. The mentally ill patient, on the brink of the psychotic precipice, must reach the utter pit of the canyon before she/he will receive necessary treatment.
If we equate mental health with physical health (I do. The brain is an organ) then it’s like letting someone who is nearly having a heart attack reach the point where cardiovascular malfunction occurs and then resuscitate the patient.
Now that’s absurd! Imagine going to a hospital with symptoms of breathlessness, chest pain, jaw and arm spasm, being told ‘there are no beds, go home and try to get well. We’ll see you when you STOP breathing and you turn blue!’
It wouldn’t happen! There are so many physical examples of when early intervention is given and received. The prevention of cancers through early detection. The offset of diabetes via medication. The treatment of epilepsy before the victim crashes their car during a seizure. The insertion of a stent or pacemaker prior to a heart attack.
The mentally unwell person must seek help in order for intervention to take place. SEEK help. That’s like asking someone who thinks they are Dusty Springfield to stop singing loudly in public. It’s like asking someone who is sure the CIA is tracking them through Sydney airport to sit down and relax. It’s like asking someone who believes the internet is talking to him/her to go to the doctors for a hearing test.
The mentally ill person on the brink of psychosis usually doesn’t seek help. They’re too busy living in their head.
So what of their carers who can see the symptoms manifesting? Who know the medication has been stopped, the early signs are back, the conversation has become stilted and shallow?
They wait. And it’s like a bomb is about to go off.
I’m not posing a solution here, it’s almost impossible to fathom one that would ever suit all cases. The Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, believes some of the answers lie in early intervention as the best way to assist detection, prevention, recovery. It would be wonderful to have a battery of tests — as we do for colorectal cancer, genetic testing for breast cancer, eye testing for glaucoma — in order to establish those at high risk and give help and guidance before the most massive, filthy, gaping, heinous conditions can take hold.
But where to start and how to police the process? Awareness helps. Time, perhaps? An enlightened community that can see the benefit of medical assistance and pharmaceuticals (where needed – but that’s a post for another time.)
Poor mental health? The most virulent of all enemies, and the most inescapable.
I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind. I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time (3 Doors Down)