Sue Dunlevy, News Limited Sunday papers, 7 October 2012, Doubts cast on youth mental health program. See http://www.news.com.au/national/doubts-cast-on-youth-mental-health-program/story-fndo4eg9-1226489760605
The following is the transcript of the opening of a speech I made in the Western Australian Parliament on 25 September 2012. A shortened video of the speech is available at http://speedupsitstill.com/confronting-patrick-mcgorrys-disease-mongering
MARTIN WHITELY MLA (25 September 2012): I want to use this opportunity to talk about some very serious concerns I have about the direction of the mental health policy in Australia. My basic contention is that personalities, rhetoric and charisma are driving the direction of mental health rather than science and evidence.
In May 2011, the Gillard government announced that it would spend $2.2 billion on mental health initiatives over five years. The biggest program it announced expenditure on, costing $222.4 million and which would be matched by state governments, was for the rollout of 16 Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre sites nationally, which would have “the capacity to assist more than 11 000 Australians with, or at risk of developing, psychotic mental illness.”1
A month later, amid growing criticisms of the ability to help those at risk of becoming psychotic, Patrick McGorry, the chief architect of EPPIC services, told The Australian “EPPICs do not treat people with psychosis risk but only patients who have had their first psychotic episode…”2
That is in direct contravention to what was said in the May 2011 announcement. Since then the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, once in December 20113 and again in June 20124 indicated that EPPICs may not treat those perceived to be at ultra-high risk of becoming psychotic; which is in conflict with what he said in the May 2011 rollout.
Frankly, confusion reigns supreme. I asked a question in the May 2012 estimates process in the Western Australian Parliament about the functions of the planned Western Australian EPPIC services. The response that came back as supplementary information after the estimates process stated ”The Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) services are for young people with first episode early psychosis and for detecting those with ultra high risk of developing psychosis.”5
Members can see the confusion. The initial announcement was that they would be for the purpose of assessing those at ultra-high risk of developing psychosis. Then there was a backdown by both McGorry, the architect of EPPIC, and the mental health minister. Then the state government indicated that that was one of the chief functions.
How could the functions of the most expensive program that is being rolled out nationally be so confused? There are two reasons for this: first, because we have been let down by the politicians in Canberra on all sides—I am one of the rare critics in politics of what is happening—and, second, because we have been let down by the media. They have been inattentive to the detail of what is on offer.
The problem is that the politicians have let a handful of gurus relying on rhetoric, charisma and hype drive the direction of the mental health policy in Australia. They have accepted their overblown claims without scrutiny. The danger is that young Australians will suffer as a result.
Also see Patrick McGorry’s ‘Ultra High Risk of Psychosis’ training DVD fails the common sense test http://speedupsitstill.com/patrick-mcgorrys-ultra-high-risk-psychosis-theory-fails-common-sense-test
- National Mental Health Reform Statement by Hon. Nicola Roxon Minister, Hon. Jenny Macklin and the Hon. Mark Butler 10 May 2011 http://www.budget.gov.au/2011-12/content/ministerial_statements/health/download/ms_health.pdf ↩
- Sue Dunlevy ‘Schism opens over ills of the mind’ The Australian June 16, 2011. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/schism-opens-over-ills-of-the-mind/story-e6frg6z6-1226075910650 ↩
- The Hon Mark Butler MP Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Media Release 8 December 2011 More Early Psychosis Services for Young Australians. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/B9CCE606D4092CE1CA257960000474FE/$File/MB222.pdf ↩
- Mark Butler A bright future for mental health in Australia
Ramp Up 8 Jun 2012 http://www.abc.net.au/rampup/articles/2012/06/08/3521451.htm ↩
- Western Australian Legislative Assembly Hansard available at http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Hansard/hansard.nsf/0/57de02ae107600d148257a220046f171/$FILE/A38%20S1%2020120531%20p636b-639a.pdf ↩