Psychiatric Service Delivery In Rural And Remote South Australia: The Mental Health Consumers’ Views

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Authors: Ingrid Muenstermann, Fiona Hawker, Ross Kalucy

Year: 2000

Event: 2000 TheMHS Conference

Subject: book of proceedings, Rural And Remote Mental Health Issues, ADELAIDE, STUDY, RESEARCH,

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: This study was part of a large project funded by the Federal Government under the National Mental Health Strategy. In trying to evaluate psychiatric service provision in rural and remote South Australia, we interviewed 140 mental health consumers from all regions, of all adult age groups and from all walks of life between March and October 1999. The research revealed that the most common diagnoses (as identified by the consumers) were depression, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder and anxiety, and that most participants had suffered from a mental illness for more than 10 years. Compared to the general population, we found high percentages of people unmarried or divorced, high percentages of people living alone or with parents, high social security dependency, and low rates of home ownership. The level of education, however, was higher than that of the general population, indicating the downward spiral of mental illness. Assessing service delivery, some contradictions were discovered. At the beginning of the interviews the consumers had stated that they were prepared to be interviewed because of dissatisfaction with the psychiatric services and that improved facilities were necessary, however, scaled answers often (although not always) revealed that they were satisfied with what is available. Hospital admissions were shorter in local than in Adelaide hospitals, and the main critique on local and on Adelaide hospitals, was that there was not enough to do. Admissions to Adelaide hospitals were seen as providing better care for mental health consumers (better trained personnel) but being separated from family and friends presented a major problem. The stigma attached to a mental illness was also of great concern to our study participants.

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