Lengthy stays in Australia’s mental hospitals

If a recent report from New South Wales is to be believed, Australia needs to step into the twenty-first century. The Ombudsman for mental health facilities there has uncovered a few real horror stories. ABC News reported on the matter in a story bearing the headline, Psychiatric patients spending too long in hospital.

Bruce Barbour reviewed the files of 95 people in 11 mental health facilities across the State and found a lack of appropriate accommodation and support was leading to people being denied their right to live in the community.

His findings, in his own words, are startling.

“What was staggering was 13 people had been in hospital for over 20 years and indeed there were three people in hospital for over 40 years,” the Ombudsman said.

This is 13 people out of 95 people, well over 10 %. If the this selection accurately reflects the population in Australian mental institutions then there are way too many people abandoned, wasting away, and forgotten in them over long periods of their lifetimes.

“Two people had been in hospital from the time they were teenagers and that’s almost Dickensian, it’s just not something we should be seeing in the 21st century in this state.”

I think to call the situation ‘almost Dickensian’ is to understate it. Charles Dickens wouldn’t be so hard on the characters in his novels as the Australian authorities have been on some of their citizens.

Just think, some of these inmates have been incarcerated since a time when they were practically children. If children are innocent, such a claim can’t be made for their elders, particularly when their elders would condemn them to such a fate.

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8 Responses

  1. You don’t need to worry about Australia. It’s probably the world leader in modern psychiatric oppression.

    There may well be about 95 people who are living in psych hospitals outside of Sydney in NSW. These would be people with real physical disabilities that are likely to be the cause of severe chronic behavioural problems. Congenital defects, brain injuries etc.

    It’s probably cheaper in many cases to do this than find places for them in accomodation for the disabled.

    • The result of long term institutionalization, coupled with psychiatric drug abuse, is often chronic disability. We’ve got the Olmsted Act, and the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), in this country, but there are still many, many people who are under served by this legislation. As we try to point out anytime the matter comes up, when arguing for alternatives to conventional treatment, custodial care in institutions is very costly. It is actually much cheaper to find places for them inside the community and outside of the hospital. Our legislators are very budget conscious, and this expense is an ace up the sleeve for advocates of community care.

  2. You guys had slavery of people taken from another continent. (Like it was ancient Egypt for fuck’s sake) That was while your forefathers themselves claimed to be seeking asylum from persecution in Europe. Then you did not quite completely win the war of independence from the pommy bastards who are still actually your enemy.

    Post 1776 you persisted with the notion that you could do what you wanted with people that were not you. ( Let’s not forget that real people lived in North America prior to 1500.)

    It took another 70 years of people thinking……….. “Uhhm…. maybe this isn’t right.” Some of those people complaining were christian psychos, others were real people.

    If it were possible to quantify pain I would rank the American Civil War at the top by a country mile.

    • You’re right on regarding the civil war. 150 years on, and this issue hasn’t been entirely settled. Barack Obama gets re-elected, and there are all these petitions on line from individuals who would have their state secede from the union. (Of course, there is the suggestion that this desire may have something to do with the President’s African lineage.) The good news is that we are not likely to have another war over the matter. The last one was just so devastating that a repeat performance wouldn’t work for anybody.

      Indigenous people, too. I guess it’s no secret. Columbus didn’t discover America. The country, and the people who lived in it, were here long before he arrived. Afterwards you have to contend with the ghost of Alexander the Great in the form of Cortez, but that’s that. Some of the original inhabitants are still around.

    • Hey, ya shackle dragger! In what way do you think the British are a US enemy? Everybody has their noses so far up America’s backside it’s embarassing.

      Check out the US involvement in eugenics. The Americans taught Hitler everything he knew. This mass messing with people’s minds is born of the same mentality. The supposedly mentally ill locked away are the subjects of experimentation, as are children and the elderly.

      The slavery culture is alive and well in the US.

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289

      http://www.alternet.org/story/151732/21st-century_slaves%3A_how_corporations_exploit_prison_labor?page=0%2C1

      • In 1776 they were, but back then development in this country was at a much more modest level, and the idea that we would win our independence very questionable. Today the problem is the power of money. National governments have made compromising deals with multinational corporations, and it is the corporations that are pulling the governments’ strings. Is the gain mutual here? Well, maybe, if you happen to be a member of the monied elite. If not, not.

        Eugenics may be a shadow of it’s former self, but if you delve into biological psychiatry you will find the ghost of eugenics alive and kicking. As I keep pointing out, people in the mental health system are dying at an age 15 -25 years younger than the rest of the population. This early death is attributable to the fact that the mental health profession is attacking the brains, and now the bodies, of people it has deemed the victims of defective genes. This is much like saying that black people are black due to defective genes. Biological reductivism, or blaming unruly behavior on genetics is a very prejudicial and prejudicing procedure. Another aspect of this matter is the blaming of mass violence on “mental illness” or “the mentally ill”. We’ve got a serious social problem, and “mental health” is just a ruse. Desperate people are a product of desperate times, and desperate people do desperate things. Letting everybody off the hook is merely a matter of avoiding reality. “Mental illness” doesn’t kill people any more than guns kill people. People kill people.

        The UK is not immune from blame in this matter either. It must be remembered that eugenics began with the cousin of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, who was, of course, a Brit.

  3. I’ll say it here for some kind of record. Victoria Police are not detaining an idiot who is grabbing women afterdark.

    • I knew of a man who was “grabbing women” in broad daylight in Virginia, with his hand in their crotch, and the last I heard he was in an institution in Virginia. I imagine he is a forensic case, and it will be some time before he gets released from the hospital. I think he’d probably be much better off if the thing had been settled in the criminal courts, and he’d never been committed. This is the problem with mental health hearings, and due process. He is likely to spend more time in the psychiatric system than he would in the criminal justice system, it being construed as a “civil” matter, and there is no one to cry “foul, this is cruel and unusual punishment”. I would think the situation in Australia might be similar.

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