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Sun 8th December 2013

Do mental health services endanger men?

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 3:58 pm

I am looking at this recent news article - Son paid for negligence with his life, say parents.

Geoffrey Tampin, a long-term psychiatric patient with a history of occasionally aggressive behaviour, had been skipping medication, drinking excessively and taking recreational drugs in the months before he killed his flatmate Dean Clark in Balmoral, Auckland, in June last year.

This has happened before, does anyone remember the Malcolm Beggs story – Killer had murder branded on his leg.

Mental health services knew that axe killer Lachlan Jones was thinking about murder weeks before he took his flatmate’s life – he had burned the word into his flesh.

When you put this along side stories like …

Domestic violence caught on cctv

Woman runs over man four times.

… you start to wonder if any consideration is given to the effects on men by mental health services.

It is a bit like the, ‘who cares if a man dies in a forestry accident’ attitude.

11 Responses to “Do mental health services endanger men?”

  1. RayJay says:

    Mental Health services overall do an amazing job, given that they are terribly under funded.

    Given that he was living in a flat in the Community already, indicates this man was assessed as being a Level Two client -towards the lower (Mild to Moderate)end of the spectrum in ordinary circumstances. What seems to have happened is that he has come to grief rather rapidly -something that his MH case worker may or may not have known. Not taking his prescribed meds, taking other non prescription drugs and mixing alcohol indicates he was not in a good place. But wait –

    Many family dump their kids into the Mental Health system and assume their responsibility ends. Ive seen clients who never see their family all year except for a few, at Christmas. It is those un-involved family members who point fingers when “The System” lets their kids down. If this man was living in a flat, how often did the family keep involved in his day to day life, and express concerns to his Case Worker?

    Calling the Police doesnt help, even though that is part of the routine. Police officers are already stretched, and have to deal with Psych patients for whom they are not trained and cannot do anything with except place them in cells. They are not equipped to make MH assessments, and the pysch wards aae invariably full if the MH crisis team consider he needs assessment.

    The real risk for Mental Health clients is not those in Care, but those in the community, or in their own homes who are not monitored to ensure they are medication compliant. At even greater risk still, are those who are not diagnosed or seen as at risk enough to even get into the Mental Health system.

    Pet causes for the Ministry of Health soak up funding that the Mental system badly needs.

  2. ianandersongin says:

    Rather a simplistic view there mate.You say many families dump their unwanted family members into the mental health system and assume their responsibility ends. Closer to the truth is that many families are at their wits end having been subject violence, theft, intimidation and all else that goes with having an unwell family member. Having them committed under a CTO as the last resort is far from an easy option.Psychiatrists on the other hand don’t help. They are not interested in the patients view. they are interested in medicating, medicating and medicating some more. Psychiatrists in mental health see themselves as godlike, untouchable to us mere humans and they treat mental health clients accordingly.If something goes wrong the Psychiatrist blames the PDN and the CSW. If there is a suicide or an attempted murder the Psychiatrist always comes up smelling of roses.The blame is shifted to the primary healthcare worker/s. This man mentioned was obviously unwell but unwell people can hide it when they need to. They pretend to be fine accept the drugs from the PDN, flush them down the toilet because the medication makes them feel so bad then it’s down hill from there. They end up back in the ward and the cycle starts again.We long pushed to have more involvement from families ( they know the client best of all) PDN’s, CSW’s and the psychiatrist but this is a slow process. Until there is more involvement by families and front line staff in ongoing care for clients suffering from mental illness, problems like the above will continue

  3. Julie says:

    ianandersongin, funnee. (you’re being simplistic also)

    The doctors in mental health (crisis team and co) study for many years and every six months they change jobs within the system. Something like 12 years on the job is in training.

    The crisis team is understaffed, under resourced and not able to do what they’d like. And I too think it’s sad they can only medicate…..as do some or many of the doctors themselves. But in saying that, it’s great to see the incredible effort for male youth (17-24) that’s been driven by other men and was backed well by Peter Dunne.

    From my experience and information shared by mental health …. the ones who have strong family support have a better chance. Mental health staff have told me a lot of families think they can just hand over responsibility to mental health and they don’t have the ability to provide what families expect.

    ………..

    I heard over the weekend that 10% of schizophrenic and bi-polar patients under mental health commit suicide. That’s frightening when someone close to you is dealing with mental illness for amongst these 2 labels fits a lot of people suffering from trauma whether a Family Court case, car accident, etc.

    Also, they have a process that’s tough IMO. They are not allowed to make personal judgement, it’s all procedure. The crisis team easily call the police who come as soon as the can depending on their workload and security guards are called in when someone is at the hospital or in a mental health building.

    …………

    IMO, patients are reluctant to reach out because:
    1) The crisis teams are so understaffed you can be lucky to see them in a few days so there’s a greater chance of the police coming.
    2) Being locked in a police cell for hours is off putting
    3) When at hospital or in a mental health facility, they say a doctor will visit in about 20 minutes when in fact it’s 3 -6 hours
    4) When sectioned to hospital, patients are harassed by drug addicts coming down off ‘P’ ect. And they are understaffed so there’s no protection.
    5) The homes they place patients full time in can be unsafe because they don’t have the resources to separate the dangerous from the non dangerous.

  4. ianandersongin says:

    I thought this was a mens site

  5. Downunder says:

    Hmmm. The question I asked was whether mental health services were endangering men, since there doesn’t seem to be any reports of woman dying as a result of mental health services.

  6. Man X Norton says:

    Julie (3). I don’t think there is any policy for doctors in mental health to “change jobs within the system” every six months.

    The lifetime suicide rate for schizophrenia has been measured by good research at about 5.7% (about 6.5% for males and 4.9% females) and the risk is greatest near the onset of illness. Treatment reduces the risk.

    Lifetime suicide rate for Bipolar Disorder has been measured at around 6.5%, about 7.7% for males and 4.78% for females.

    Suicide rates for healthy/nonpsychiatric controls have been measured at 0.72% for men and 0.26% for women.

    On what do you base your claim that there is “an incredible effort for male youth” or that it was “backed well by Peter Dunne”. In fact, the NZ Suicide Prevention Plan carefully avoids even acknowledging that suicide is primarily a male issue, and certainly does not recommend any male-specific or even male-appropriate intervention.

  7. Julie says:

    Hi man X norton.

    Julie (3). I don’t think there is any policy for doctors in mental health to “change jobs within the system” every six months.

    I don’t know anything about their policies. Plus, you make me realise a good point. Mental Health is a big field. I only have experience with the ‘epi’ (youth) team and ‘marinoto’ (child) team. It may be different for adults and there’s lots of other fields.

    Thanks for the exact statistics for suicide. Do you add the men’s and women’s together to get the overall rate? The last statistics I saw showed men’s suicide decreasing and women’s increasing over a number of years. I’ve heard that the increase for women is because they are moving towards using the same means for suicide as men. Some think women will overtake men but that’s just statistical analysis, IMO.

    ………

    Interesting info about suicide being primarily a men’s issue. Alcoholism was once considered by some to be primarily a men’s issue. How things change.

    ………

    Below is a bit of info regarding Peter Dunne

    http://www.spinz.org.nz/page/169-events-archive+2011-national-conference+opening-address-hon-peter-dunne-associate-minister-of-health

    http://www.healthpages.co.nz/news/administration-a-policy/dunne-youth-package-big-plus-in-fight-against-suicides

    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/dunne-launches-30-point-plan-tackle-suicide-rate

    There’s more but this shows what’s been happening. He’s been travelling around NZ and overseas (at least Australia) since I’ve been a part of his facebook page. I learned about men getting behind male youth suicide in 2007 through my pharmacist.

  8. Downunder says:

    Inquiry into three deaths

    An urgent review has been launched to establish whether Canterbury District Health Board did all it could to prevent the deaths and National says there is a very real possibility other lives are at risk at the unit.

    There is no indication of gender in these deaths or cause of death however these deaths must be what is not ordinarily expected within the institution.

    The first death happened a few weeks ago and the other two were within the last 10 days. Brinded says the review will cover admission, assessment and treatment of people entering the facility.

    An urgent answer is sought.

  9. Downunder says:

    Call for inquiry into deaths of four men at psychiatric hospital.

    This is from England not New Zealand – is the same thing happening here.

    Report that raised role of antipsychotic drugs in deaths of patients at a Northampton hospital was not shown to inquest.

    I have heard some sad stories about families with elderly fathers in rest homes finding that these men have been sedated with antipsychotic drugs without the families knowledge.

    This becomes obvious when they are transferred to hospital and suddenly come to life again because they are not receiving the drugs.

    This practice is spreading outside of institutions and could be the same situation that anyone of us face as the population bubble rises in old age, and society struggles to deal with the numbers of elderly.

    There is another issue that is raised above; whether governement organisations are withholding evidence from the Coroner to cover their own backs or whether Police who conduct the inquiry on behalf of the Coroner are not gathering sufficient evidence to present to the court.

    These issues impact not only on men but also our children who are often in situations we have no say in, because we have been separated from them against our will.

    Pursuing these issues may not seem directly relavent to a mens site but this is a way ti highlight deficiancies that impact on us.

    The system isn’t on our side and men can only rely on individuals to purue these avenues of enquiry or at the very least to contribute their personal stories in blogs like this.

  10. Alastair says:

    2 Points:- First #4 ianandersongin Julie is a valuable member of this site!

    Second, I believe the enemy is drugs – mainly non prescription, especially the synthetic types. The front line clinician has little perspective on what has been ingested, so reverts to treating symptoms, not causes. Compounded by interactions with prescribed drugs. This is like an infinite matrix! Withdrawal symptoms of something out of the Methadone family are spectacular to say the least. I take my hat off to the people who work in this field, and front line police who deal with the immediate problem and then have to mop up afterwards.

  11. Man X Norton says:

    Julie (reply 7). The links you provided concerning Peter Dunne in no way show that he is interested in any initiative concerning men. He does not mention ‘men’ anywhere in his speeches and statements. Instead, he proudly announces special suicide programmes for Maori, Pacific Islanders and youth. None of those groups come close to the need that men have, but nothing whatsoever is provided for men and Dunne carefully avoids any acknowledgement of men in relation to suicide. Dunne deserves only scorn from men in New Zealand.

    There have been fluctuations in suicide rates for men and women but it’s not a consistent trend. Claims that women’s suicide is increasing towards male rates seem to be mainly wishful thinking by feminist groups and our Ministry of Health determined to ensure men are never seen to be disadvantaged in any sphere, much less get any financial help to address their disadvantage.

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