05 February 2008

Shortcomings of mental health system identified

Both The Advertiser/ Adelaide Now and the ABC have reported the findings of the coroner's inquiry into the death of an 18 year old man, who

died from a methadone overdose at the Palm Lodge supported residential care facility in College Park, in August 2003.

The 18-year-old was not prescribed methadone for his severe depression and an autopsy found it was likely he had never taken the drug before.

His body lay in his room undiscovered for up to three days after his death, prompting a call from coroner Mark Johns for a sweeping overhaul of procedures inside state-run care centres.

His father, who I know, has also made some pertinent yet dignified comments which remind us that despite all the resources devoted to mental health, the system still has major shortcomings:

while nothing could bring back his son, he said the findings were a "wake-up call" for those running the mental health system.

"I talk to other parents every day who have got kids like Tom and I think that this issue of care for 18 to 25-year-olds just cannot be ignored by the community or the people we elect," he said.

"I don't think it is a big vote winner but I talk to a lot of parents who have got kids with difficulties to varying degrees who are incredibly frustrated."

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