Saturday, March 26, 2011

Consumers 'ignored' in e-health policy, says privacy foundation

March 24, 2011

THE Australian Privacy Foundation has accused Health Minister Nicola Roxon of reneging on her promise to consult with consumers over the design and operation of the $467 million e-health record project.

APF chair Roger Clarke said that given the advanced state of the project, with work already under way at lead implementation sites, "we are raising a necessarily urgent concern about the governance of this major initiative"...

Read the full story on The Australian website

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Opinion - Bipolar Diagnosis

As he struggled for decades with a depression that often left him despondent, Eric Wilson never thought to get a second opinion.

"This might be true of many of us," he said. "We feel we have more ownership of what we see as our body and physical health so, if a doctor gives me a diagnosis I don't like, I'm likely to get a second opinion. It just wasn't the same for mental health."

After decades of broken relationships, multiple flirtations with suicide, and manic highs and lows, he received his final and accurate diagnosis of bipolar II mixed. This form of bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose because its sufferers often are highly functioning and extremely productive. The highs can masquerade as general happiness. The difficulty is when the mood swings drastically and uncontrollably.

Researchers have found that as many as 69 percent of initial diagnoses of people with bipolar disorder were incorrect, underlining the importance of seeking a second opinion. With bipolar, the wrong medication can have devastating effects, plunging a patient into a deeper depression or into rapid cycles of highs and lows.

Wilson describes his journey from a dangerously moody teen to happily married father in "The Mercy of Eternity." He credits the loving persistence of his wife and the wonder of his daughter for pushing him beyond that first incorrect diagnosis of his disease.

He is sure he would never have sought additional help on his own.

"The idea that I had mental illness scared me," he said. "So I felt that any therapist I was seeing had a mastery of this strange, mysterious world of mental health, and I'd do whatever this person told me to do. I struggled with medications for a long time that simply were not working.

"It was a very long process that required a lot of patience and a lot of flexibility, but it's paid off beautifully."

Source: Wake Forest University

Monday, March 14, 2011

Calls for schools to address suicide prevention

By Barbara Miller - ABC News
Updated Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:55pm AEDT

There are fresh calls for a suicide prevention program to be included as part of the new national curriculum in schools.

Fears of sparking copycat actions and a certain stigma surrounding it means suicide is a subject not often broached.

But the public health advocacy group Suicide Prevention Australia says there is no evidence that talking about it in a non-sensational way can put people at risk.

Dr Martin Harris, who is on the board of Suicide Prevention Australia, says a suicide prevention program should be considered as part of the new national curriculum... more

Friday, March 11, 2011

Coalition pledges to boost mental health

BARRY O'FARRELL has committed to spending $30 million on establishing a Mental Health Commission and has promised to quarantine funding for mental health from the overall health budget.

Announcing the funding at the Lifeline telephone counselling centre in south-western Sydney, the Opposition Leader said the commission would be modelled on a similar one introduced in Western Australia.

''A Mental Health Commission is needed to drive the necessary reforms to improve mental health outcomes because NSW lags behind other states on mental health care,'' Mr O'Farrell said.

''NSW has dropped the ball on mental health with over 600,000 mental health sufferers receiving no care or treatment over the past year.''

The Opposition spokesman for mental health, Kevin Humphries, said a commission was essential to rebuilding a ''system currently in crisis''.

''Around one in five Australians is affected by mental illness each year, yet only one in three will receive the necessary help they need,'' he said.

''Too many health patients end up in hospital emergency departments. Early intervention with care in the community from a range of providers could prevent some of these hospital admissions.''

The announcement was welcomed by the former Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry, the executive director of the Black Dog Institute, Gordon Parker, and the president of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, Frank Walker.

Alexandra Smith
March 11, 2011
Soured from the Sydney Morning Herald

12th International Mental Health Conference

Personality Disorders: Out of the Darkness
Radisson Resort, Gold Coast
24th - 26th August 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Drug use soars in aged-care facilities

From: The Australian March 07, 2011 12:00AM

MORE elderly people are being dosed up on powerful mood-altering drugs, according to a study that finds use of the drugs in some nursing homes has soared.

A study of nearly 2500 residents of 44 western Sydney nursing homes shows that nearly a quarter are taking antidepressants almost every day, up from 15 per cent in 1993.

The proportion on antipsychotics -- powerful drugs normally used to treat serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia -- rose from 22 per cent in 1998 to 28 per cent in 2009.

The expert who conducted the study has described the findings as mostly good news, because doctors had largely shifted to a newer generation of so-called "atypical" antipsychotics, and at lower doses, avoiding the unpleasant side-effects of older drugs, such as muscle stiffness... read the full story here.

The 12th International Mental Health Conference 2011
Radisson Resort, Gold Coast, Australia
Wednesday 24th August – Friday 26th August 2011.
Theme: Personality Disorders "Out if the Darkness"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

President of ANZMH Association, to stand for General Council of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

Prof Philip Morris, President of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, is standing for election as one of the Queensland representatives on the General Council of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.  He would very much welcome your support.  

Prof Morris said "the the election of General Councilors provides an opportunity to set a new positive direction for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.  With your support I hope to be elected as a Queensland representative on the General Council. 

Along with like-minded candidates from other states and territories, I hope to make the College a collegiate membership-based organization where respect and support of the ordinary Fellows leads to improved professional morale with the effect of better mental health care for the community.  I hope to facilitate increased involvement in the College of Fellows from all practice settings – including private, public, and academic. 

 I wish to give College members a greater say in the selection and election of senior College executive office holders.  I will advocate for the College to set up interactive email discussion groups so that all members of the College can discuss important topics and communicate directly with College executive officers and the Board chairs, and to extend electronic methods of communication and voting within the College.  I will argue for lower College subscription fees. 

I will support a prompt independent review of College governance, performance and structure that is designed to improve the involvement of College Fellows in the organization.  To achieve these changes will require a change in the personnel of the General Council.  This is why I am standing for this election. Ballot papers will be distributed in the near future for this election.  

I would be grateful if you might consider me for your support and your vote."

You will find a short bio of Prof Morris here