THE father of a 21-year-old meth addict struggling with psychosis says his son has attended the emergency department at Midland Hospital more than 70 times since 2015, which he says is proof the system is failing addicts with mental health issues.
Murray Kinnane said the current system did not provide effective treatments for patients dealing with a dual diagnosis of drug addiction and mental health issues and often left them on the wrong side of the law.
“At the moment my son is experiencing tormenting auditory hallucinations and is convinced he has had listening devices implanted in his ears,” he said.
“We have encouraged him many times to attend hospital. This has been a last resort for us as parents who have also facilitated rehabilitation and private health services to no avail.”
Mr Kinnane said last month police told him that his son had been banned from Midland Hospital.
He said he knew his son could be aggressive and non-compliant but he was crying out for help.
“When he attended hospital last month he was clearly agitated about the voices in his head and was suicidal stating if he couldn’t fix the problem himself he would take his own life,” he said.
“He should have been admitted involuntarily under the Mental Health Act. Where is the duty of care? The risk is real and he has previously overdosed twice in an attempt to take his own life.”
Mr Kinnane said it wasn’t until two weeks later after making a complaint that his son was involuntarily held in the mental health unit at the hospital.
“The police turned up to our home with a mental health nurse and we watched as our obviously sick son was taken to hospital in handcuffs,” he said.
“There lies the problem in dual diagnosis. They look at him as a drug addict and not as someone with a mental health and drug issue.
“We have known of problems in our dual diagnosis health sector for quite some time and without any change over the years we have condemned people to poor life outcomes and filled prisons due to our health system failures.
“What happens after he is released from the unit we are not sure but likely they will say he needs to go into rehab.
“It’s incredibly difficult trying to convince someone with a mental health problem to go to rehab, when they think they’re fine. They can and will just say no.”
Mr Kinnane wants legislation introduced to allow for the compulsory treatment of people with severe addictions.
He has written to Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook to highlight his concerns about inadequacies in the system.
“Our son is young, vulnerable and most of all loved,” he said.
“He has been in and out of jail due to drug use and the current system is leading people to end up in the prison rather than the health care system.
“It’s time for our political leaders to admit that they have gotten the treatment of drug and mental health patients wrong.
“It is costing lives. I’m now entering my seventh year in this battle and I expect I could get phone call any day that my son is dead.”
A spokesman for Health Minister Roger Cook said the State Government was looking at a NSW trial into the involuntary commitment of people with drug and alcohol addictions.
Last year the State Government allocated $1 million to develop a Mental Health Emergency Centre at St John of God Midland Public Hospital to treat people with drug, alcohol and acute mental health related issues.
It is expected to be operational by late 2021.
In 2017 more than 71,000 presentations were made to the St John of God Midland Public Hospital’s emergency department, a seven per cent increase over the previous year, making it one of the busiest EDs in the state.
The Government also plans to open a new $5 million, 10-bed crisis centre for meth addicts in Midland.