Treat mentally ill in suburbs: GP

Bassendean GP Dr John McAuliffe. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d418281
Bassendean GP Dr John McAuliffe. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d418281

The doctor’s call comes ahead of the Meeting for Minds Mental Health Forum in Fremantle next month, bringing together international, interstate and local clinicians and people with ‘lived experience’ of mental illness.

The forum will assess national and international mental health research priorities and put the spotlight on new therapies.

Dr McAuliffe said there should be a small, accessible and non-threatening treatment centre in every suburb that is linked to work and exercise opportunities, rather than mental health patients being ‘locked up in ivory towers’.

‘For instance, Johnny’s 17 years old and anxious and he probably needs assessment, but this could be done in the suburban house,’ he said.

‘We must improve outcomes and to do this we need to make mental health care an accepted part of everyday life in our suburbs and towns.

‘With conditions like depression predicted to be one of the most common diseases worldwide by 2020, the floodgates are opening and we must have a plan.’

The self-described ‘unique nut’ is a respected family doctor who uses his own experience of battling a mental condition to help hundreds of people each year.

Dr McAuliffe, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, suffered his first episode three years into a medical degree, which forced him to quit university.

He returned to study nine months later, finished his degree and began his career.

‘I had all this energy and good cash flow and within a few years I had three medical practices across Perth,’ he said.

But after blowing hundreds of thousands of dollars on the share market, he was forced to sell everything, leading to another episode when he was 31.

This time, he discovered the best treatment for him was electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

‘It’s not a harrowing experience’