Redesigning society for better mental health
I’ve been involved in submissions to the Mental Health Productivity Commission and the Mental Health Royal Commission in Victoria. I’ve been pleased with the findings and hope they will inform the changes that are necessary to make our society better at preventing and treating mental health conditions.
My main hope is that society can be redesigned to be less prone to creating mental issues. This can start from birth and continue until old age, using the institutions that we have in place, with some tweaks.
There are models around the world of schooling systems that take into account mental health programs and assessment at a deeper level than we have in Australia.
We can do better in our workplaces, too.
Our workplace relations system too, although good by world standards, can be improved if we can make it easier for people to move in and out of work depending on their mental health.
We often hear about destigmatising mental issues for those who are suffering within the workplace, but it is still hard for people to return to the workplace having recovered.
Furthermore, the ability to take mental health days without stigma would be a great addition to our system so that people aren’t waiting until they are broken before seeking help and or some respite.
Finally, a note on the role of general practitioners:
As a member of the Royal Australian College GPs and active on many of their mental health committees, I have observed that GPs are often undervalued and under-appreciated in the work they do treating and preventing mental ill health.
The pre-existing relationship between a general practitioner and their clients means a lot of the work of therapy is already done. The therapeutic relationship can then continue in a point of crisis without having to be established.
I would hope that in the implementation of the commission’s findings, the work of general practitioners is enhanced and made full use of, rather than GPs being seen simply as sources of referral.
Dr James Antoniadis is Chair of the General Practice and Psychiatry Liaison Committee at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Victoria.
He will appear on Day Two of our forthcoming symposium, on a panel discussing the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health. Full program