Choice On The Agenda In Australian Psych Wards

A story in The Sydney Morning Herald sports the headline, Patients want more choice, says mental health survey.

The largest EVER survey of Australian mental health service users indicates that they want more choice. 3500 psychiatric prisoners and service users took the survey intended to be used as feedback for reform.

The Action and Change in NSW Mental Health Services report found 57 per cent of hospital inpatients found it difficult to see a doctor when they felt they needed to and 55 per cent said they did not have enough choice about their treatment.

80 % of those in community care felt their privacy was sufficiently protected and that they were treated with respect.

This survey was a part of a program that is aimed at instituting change.

Changes in response to patient complaints included increasing doctors’ rounds, providing patients with more information on their rights and notepads to record it, and increasing carer involvement, the report said.

More than 100 service providers utilized the survey with 49 % implementing changes.

I hope this is the start of some action to stir things up a little in the mental health system in Australia. The problem with patient rights is that they often involve human rights violations. It is mental health law itself that separates the mental patients from the rest of society (i.e. first class citizenry) through state sanctioned assault and deprivation of liberty. Perhaps Australian mental health service users will be able to detect this discrepancy and implement more fundamental changes in the future.