Sunday, May 20, 2012

Measuring mental health and cannabis use in remote Indigenous communities: better data for better intervention

Dr India Bohanna

Drug use and the associated mental health impacts are a major health issue in remote Indigenous communities exacerbated by limited access to mental health services.  In Queensland and Northern Territory communities, rates of cannabis use may be as high as one in two, and we have preliminary data suggesting cannabis users are suffering a wide range of mental health impacts, some of which are indicative of drug-induced psychosis. In order to systematically document these mental health impacts and facilitate early intervention, we must first establish reliable and validated research methods to measure mental health in these communities.

The challenges for mental health research in these communities will be outlined, as will be the steps currently being taken to establish systematic approaches to measuring mental health and cannabis use.

It is anticipated that the development of culturally valid and reliable methods for detecting symptoms of mental ill health will facilitate early intervention and thus improve mental health outcomes for those living in remote Indigenous communities.

Dr India Bohanna, Research Fellow, and A/Prof Alan Clough, James Cook University will present at the;

The 13th International Mental Health Conference 6th to the 8th of August 2012 Outrigger Inn (formerly Holiday Inn) Gold Coast, Qld

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Government announces initiatives for people with dementia

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age welcomes the Australian government's announcement of initiatives for people with dementia and services to support aged care, but says more is need for the mental health needs of people in old age.

'Investment in dementia care and diagnosis and improved aged care services are essential and will go some way to improving the lives of older people with mental illness, and those of their families and carers. Improved access to services that support the person in their own home is particularly welcome,' said Dr Roderick McKay, Chair of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age.

'In the next 20 years the number of Australians over 65 will double, therefore the mental health care of older people is an important part of in the mental health reform agenda. Planning for the mental health needs of older people and access to mental health care is critical to mitigate against poor mental health outcomes,' said Dr McKay

'Focus on this important area is welcomed, and needs to be built upon so that there is comprehensive support for the mental health of older people. As Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, as well as Social Inclusion, Minister Butler would appear to have an almost unique opportunity to achieve this,' said Dr McKay.

'Older people need to be included in all mental health planning to improve their quality of care, remove discrimination and obtain better understanding of the mental health needs of older Australians. It is vital these issues be considered in the government's Ten Year Roadmap for Mental Health Reform,' said Dr McKay.

'Untreated mental illness robs older Australians of their quality of life, physical health and independence at significant cost to individuals, family and community. While there are effective mental health treatments for older people, limited resources can deny them equitable access. Australia owes its older citizens and their families adequate support, respect, and dignity,' said Dr McKay.

'To improve the quality of mental health care for older people we require national benchmarks for the availability and quality of mental health services for older people, and need national principles for providing coordinated care across different services for older Australians with mental illness. Basic mental health training for people working with older Australian is also essential,' said Dr McKay.

For further information Kirrily Johns +61 3 9601 4940 at the  The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.