TWENTY-ONE years after it opened, the Alma Street Centre remains one of the most pivotal mental health services in the area.
Having worked in the centre since its early days, consultant psychiatrist Steve Baily has seen the changing face of mental illness across two decades.
He said it has become an issue that is more accepted and more talked about in the wider community.
“There have been a lot of changes in WA with some of the more prominent ones being the creation of the Minister for Mental Health position in Cabinet, the creation of the Mental Health Commission and the implementation of the Mental Health Act 2014,” he said.
“The centre has got considerably busier, admissions are shorter and the acuity of illness is higher, as is the use of illicit drugs,” he said.
“Today, there’s a much greater focus on physical health due to increased unwellness associated with mental illness and a more comprehensive approach.”
There are set to be more changes introduced to mental health care when the Mental Health Act 2014 comes into effect next month.
The Act will introduce the Charter of Mental Health Care Principles, something to guide mental health services in treatment, care and support for those living with mental illness.
It also brings in new rights and more protection for involuntary patients, children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and carers.
Mr Baily said the new Act would bring WA’s mental health legislation in line with the world’s best practice.
“Basically it will provide a legal framework for what is generally current good practice,” he said.
“It will be a challenge to meet all the requirements in the time available. However, once staff become familiar with the new and more complex processes, the patients will undoubtedly benefit.”
Visit mentalhealth.wa.gov.au for more information.