Catholic Welfare sounds alarm on undiagnosed mental illness

Catholic Welfare Australia yesterday told the Senate Select Committee into Mental Health that staff training, and improved coordination of resources, are necessary in order to stem the tide of Australians with an undiagnosed mental illness seeking help from welfare agencies.

Executive Director Frank Quinlan (pictured), and Policy & Research Officer Rachel Harrigan, told the Inquiry that it is becoming increasingly important for staff within the welfare sector to obtain the necessary skills required to identify and prompt a mental illness diagnosis.

"A timely diagnosis of mental disorder is one of the first steps in management or recovery," they pointed out.

They also told the Inquiry that mental illness needs to be seen in its wider social context.

"We are also of the view that the social services sector has an important role to play in the 'non-clinical' provision of services aimed at overcoming the 'social' barriers faced by people with a mental illness," they said. "Identifying and treating mental health issues can no longer be viewed purely within the health environment."

Meanwhile Francis Sullivan of Catholic Health Australia told the Committee that little is being done to replace facilities previously provided by institutions.

"The services weren't mounted in the community in the first instance - you must have the services there before you shift people," he said.

Mr Sullivan said the sale of psychiatric institutions has also seen the loss of valuable infrastructure.

Opening statement by Catholic Welfare Australia to the Senate Select Commmittee on Mental Health (Catholic Welfare Australia 4/7/05)
Mental health services missing, inquiry hears (ABC News 4/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Senate Select Committee on Mental Health
Response of Catholic Welfare Australia to Senate Select Commmittee on Mental Health 13/5/05
CHA Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health May 2005 (Catholic Health Australia)
Catholic Welfare Australia
Catholic Health Australia

Catholic Health says Costello "calls it right" on mental health (CathNews 24/9/04)

Nun's fight for sufferers of dual disorder (Catholic Weekly 1/5/05)

5 Jul 2005