A while ago I was in a cab in the city, stuck in traffic as usual, when I saw a guy on the side of the road picking up leaves. Looking closer, he had the biggest grin on his face (yes, bigger than Mr Walsh's) I had ever seen! He would bend over, confidently, and pick up a single leaf, smile, and put it in the bin. Then he'd see another one, and repeat the process. There was plenty of leaves being blown around, so I could tell this guy was gonna be happy for a while. He was well dressed (not business clothes, but his clothes were clean, neat and tidy), clean and shaven, and probably somewhere between 40 and 50 years old.
My first thought was that this guy had missed his medication or something! But he definately had some sort of mental illness. And then I caught myself; how prejudice of me! Why couldn't this guy just be really happy in that he is cleaning the footpath?
I wish to raise two points. I think people, including me, too easily dismiss others who are "different" as someone who must be mentally ill, especially considering we (well, I) don't know much about mental illness
and the many, many different types. I believe Mental Illness is a very important issue that our society needs to learn more about and understand.
That's my first point, and is really only to sum up my anecdote above, but my second point is related, and is about the sorry state of Mental Health Services across Australia. As far as I do know about a some types of mental illnesses
, is that it can be genetic, or even brought on by trauma, such as drug abuse
In fact, on that note, I would recommend this ABC's Four Corners
documentary on crystal methamphetamine
("Ice") as an excellent insight into the lives of addicted drug users.
The use of crystal meth was even mentioned recently on House
, and essentially almost promoted the drug, where in one scene Cameron (hot chick) takes the drug, gets horny, and sleeps with one of the other characters. This also reminds me of a part in the Four Corners documentary where they talk about this special room in St. Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst where they put people who are 'high' in there to come down. One of the Specialists was saying that this one time a guy was in there after taking "Ice", known for increasing sexual drive, and masterbated for 14 hours straight!
Anyways I am getting a little off the point here. Given that I've now spent two paragraphs on that, I've added it in the "Title".
In a country where one in five citizens will develop some kind of mental illness, the current research and treatment funding is not adequate. I am glad to hear that the federal government is going to contribute $1.8 billion dollars over the next 5 years, but it's still not enough! Australia's mental health system has been neglected and forgotten about for 10 years! It's a shambles.
The vast majority of homeless people in Australia are mentally ill. They simply have no-where to go and get turned away by the many charitable organisations out there because they simply don't have the resources. Eventually, like drug addicts, they would more than likely turn to criminal activity for money and/or food.
Looking after a country's citizens should not be left to charities! Granted, they get some funding, but not enough to cope. Governments need to do much more about this increasing epidemic.
Violence and Emotional & Psycholigical Disorders, through Mental Illness also tears apart families. With a lack of understanding and community support, it can wreck people's lives completely, and unnecessarily, and can have many victims - the person and their social, professional and family networks. Mental Illnesses can be treatable and manageable, but there is just not enough resources!
I think this is a serious problem in Australia that needs a lot more understanding and public awareness.