MENTAL HEALTH BILL 2012

March 25, 2013

Mrs ARMITAGE ( Launceston ) - Madam President, I also support this bill as I consider this to be very serious legislation.

Mental illness is just that, an illness. Unfortunately, there is often a stigma attached to mental illness that is not attached to other illnesses and people can be made to feel uncomfortable and not receive the same respect and compassion as those with a physical illness. As mentioned by the member for Mersey, about half of the population will experience a mental illness at some stage of their life and one in five will experience a mental health problem each year. Additionally, about one in every 100 people will develop schizophrenia at some time in their life, which is very frightening.

This can happen to anyone in any family irrespective of social standing, position, wealth or race. A very good friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with severe depression caused by a pathological condition. This affects the whole family. Sometimes it is short term but often it is long term. As was mentioned by other members, the reasons are many and varied and often the treatment can be difficult, particularly if patients have no family or carers.

I can remember being told by the police that often they will take to the hospital a patient or someone they find in the streets. They are often on their own. They will stay there for a while and wait in emergency for some time and they get sick of waiting and they leave. They go away, the police pick them up again, they take them back again and after a while they leave because they cannot be restrained. It is a roundabout and many times these people have nowhere to live. It is a very sad situation.

The member for Windermere also mentioned that it is sometimes hard to identify whether people have a mental illness or are drunk. I can remember when I did my responsible serving of alcohol course one of the things they pointed out to us was do not necessarily not serve someone because you think they are drunk. They might not be drunk but could have a mental illness and how awful that would be.

Ms Forrest - Or some other condition.

Mrs ARMITAGE - Absolutely, or some other medical condition but how awful it would be that you refused someone because you assumed that they were drunk. There is a stigma attached that we do not look beyond. As was said by the honourable member for Hobart, it is like Mahatma Gandhi who said, 'A community is judged by how we treat the weakest and the most vulnerable in our society'. I believe this bill is a step in the right direction. Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked and this legislation is an improvement and long overdue. That is not saying there is not room for improvement, but it is certainly a step in the right direction and I support the bill.

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