OPINION: Broken system causing preventable deaths
OVER the past two weeks I have investigated the mental health system in the Burnett region, spoken to front line workers, academics, families who have lost kids to suicide, government officials and senior police officers and they almost all had the same thing to say - the mental health system is failing.
Services are overwhelmed, kids are not being taken seriously by mental health professionals and a severe lack of access to services has led to the Burnett region having the highest suicide rate in Queensland.
The government funds several mental health services that cover our region, however a number of them only do outreach, which means they are in the region for sometimes one day a week and in some cases one day a month.
Despite millions of dollars in funding, people are falling through the cracks of our broken system.
After speaking with families who have lost kids to suicide, they said when they saw a GP, their child was not taken seriously.
I asked the Darling Downs West Moreton Primary Health Network about what to do when a GP doesn't point you in the right direction and all they could say was to include the recognised helplines in my stories.
Parents are taking their kids to see help and instead of getting a referral to a specialist, they are having to bury them.
There are far to few mental health specialists in the region and with no paediatrician the wait list can be as long as twelve months.
I questioned the state Government three times about when we will be getting a mental health facility in the region and not once did I receive a response to that question.
Despite 67 preventable suicide deaths between 2015-2019, neither the state or federal government could tell me when the Burnett region is going to get any form of mental health facility.
It's time for our leaders to take this seriously, if something doesn't change - more and more Burnett lives are going to become suicides statistics.
If you or someone you know needs mental health assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For further tips and awareness of mental health, head to www.beyondblue.org.au
Read more from the South Burnett Times mental health campaign here: