Mental health hospital “too awful”

Inadequate resources to deal with mental health is a growing problem in New Zealand. Here is an awful example:

Stuff:  Christchurch’s Princess Margaret Hospital too ‘awful’ for government reviewers to visit

Some of the South Island’s most vulnerable people are being treated at derelict Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), but it’s too “awful” for government-appointed reviewers to visit.

Urgent plans to move the remaining mental health services from PMH have been in bureaucratic limbo for more than two years, despite staff and patients describing the facilities as “disgusting” and “appallingly depressing”. The rest of the services shifted out last year.

About 31 patients from the youth mental health, mothers and babies, eating disorders and long-term rehabilitation units were stuck at the facility, which the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) described as “substandard” and “not appropriate”.​

The reviewers tasked with assessing the services before they could move met with CDHB officials in June, but declined to visit the premises because they “sound awful, we don’t want to go there”.

There were serious problems with New Zealand’s institution based mental health care. Some of the treatments were horrific, the treatment of many patients was horrible.

Then in the 1980s there was a major and rapid shift to community care. In some respects this was certainly a much better approach. Good care delivered while people still function in their families and communities is a far better approach, in theory.

But mental health care seems to have been badly under-funded and under-resourced, so it has created new problems, some of them serious.

Not only have many mental health patients been let down, it has put everyone in the community at greater risk.

As a result people with mental health problems have suffered, and there have been adverse effects such as drug abuse and crime. Many people in prison have mental health issues that are obviously inadequately dealt with. It appears to be a growing problem.

There is massive pressure on the whole health budget. The lives and well being of people are at stake.

But there has to be a better way of funding and providing for mental health, otherwise mental sickness will keep increasing and causing a wide range of problems.

It’s not just Princess Margaret Hospital that’s awful.  The whole mental health system seems to be inadequate, and that’s awful for the people who rely on it – or should be able to rely on it.

30 Comments

  1. sorethumb

     /  July 20, 2017

    “A Brighter Future”

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 20, 2017

    What is so awful about it? I recall visiting people there a long time ago and it was just a normal hospital environment.

    • MaureenW

       /  July 20, 2017

      Princess Margaret Hospital was rather nice 40 years ago. From recent pictures published in the herald, it looks like it’s been let go. Depressing and dark – not a good space for mental health services clients.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 20, 2017

        Typical government management. A building worth millions and they won’t give it a paint job.

        • Gezza

           /  July 20, 2017

          They probably haven’t got any BLOODY MONEY, Al?

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 20, 2017

            They’ve got billions. They just can’t allocate and manage it.

            • Gezza

               /  July 20, 2017

              Oh, Well if you know that, and that’s all the problem is – WHY DON’T YOU BLOODY DO IT!

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 20, 2017

              Jeez, Gezza, how would I do that from Russell?

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              I don’t know. Work it out. Why have I have I gotta work out an implementation rollout for you? You’ve just managed to thoroughly review the entire bloody health system, in detail, single-handedly, & identify precisely what’s wrong in this case, & every other health-service related problem as well, from Russell. Why can’t ya just bloody fix it from there as well? 😕

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 21, 2017

              Can’t remember where I put my wand. Is it under your dishes?

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Don’t think so. Does it look anything like a BLOODY TYRE PRESSURE GAUGE❗️😡

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 21, 2017

              Dunno. Wave it and see if PMH gets painted or better still, sold.

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Well, why don’t you just bloody buy it & tart it up❗️

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  July 21, 2017

              Got to go walk the dogs now. Need an earthquake assessment of the buildings and a quote to convert them into apartments for homeless Aucklanders.

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              👍🏼

  3. Tipene

     /  July 20, 2017

    Until the mental health and allied health industries accept that they need to provide formal data that shows that the services they provide actually work, it’s unlikely they will be attracting any more significant funding:

    https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/community-investment-strategy/

    The Community Investment Strategy was birthed out of a frustration that “more funding” did not equate to “better outcomes”, because no one measures outcomes in this area of social service spend, and the moment they try to, emotion trumps facts and the service providers get all pissy:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201835691/rape-crisis-reject-data-for-funding-contracts

    There is a host of examples of social service programmes that received funding, and achieved nothing with it: Family Safety Teams; Family Start; Relationships Aotearoa; Family Court Counselling; School-based anti bullying programmes; suicide prevention programmes; on and on and on the list goes.

    If social service organisations ant more funding – then they need to start recording and publishing their aggregated client outcomes, and embrace evidence-based, as opposed to ideological-based practice.

  4. Tipene

     /  July 20, 2017

    Until the mental health and allied health industries accept that they need to provide formal data that shows that the services they provide actually work, it’s unlikely they will be attracting any more significant funding.

    https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/community-investment-strategy/

    The Community Investment Strategy was birthed out of a frustration that “more funding” did not equate to “better outcomes”, because no one measures outcomes in this area of social service spend, and the moment they try to, emotion trumps facts and the service providers get all pissy:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201835691/rape-crisis-reject-data-for-funding-contracts

    There is a host of examples of social service programmes that received funding, and achieved nothing with it: Family Safety Teams; Family Start; Relationships Aotearoa; Family Court Counselling; School-based anti bullying programmes; suicide prevention programmes; on and on and on the list goes.

    If social service organisations ant more funding – then they need to start recording and publishing their aggregated client outcomes, and embrace evidence-based, as opposed to ideological-based practice.

    • Gezza

       /  July 21, 2017

      Heard ya the first time. Now you’re just nagging ….

      • Tipene

         /  July 21, 2017

        Double post by mistake – my bad.

        • Gezza

           /  July 21, 2017

          Yeah. I know. Jus funnin wiv ya. 👍🏼😀

  5. One of a kind

     /  July 20, 2017

    I would go down the track of the following opinion (based on work experience)

    1 A large percentage of people who end up in the Mental Health system have arrived there as a result of Cannabis use/misuse.

    2 Increasing funding to the Mental Health system is only likely to occur through public pressure and media coverage.

    3 The media (by and large) have decided that they will jump on the ‘Cannabis is harmless and should be legalised’ band wagon and produce multiple articles to that effect.

    4 Therefore the media will not focus on the causes of increasing numbers of Mental Health patients as it goes against their ‘accepted’ narrative that Cannabis must be legalised.

    • PDB

       /  July 20, 2017

      No doubt the regular stoners on here will shout you down for expressing an alternative viewpoint on the mental issues that cannabis causes.

      • Gezza

         /  July 21, 2017

        I think the research on this is mixed, around the world PDB. It’s one of those issues where its hard to identify whether cannabis is a cause of their mental health problems or whether they are more likely to be regular stoners because it actually helps them relax, feel better, & cope with whatever mental health or personality disorder they suffer from.

        My own observations are that a very high proportion of mental health patients seem to smoke tobacco as well. Probably for the same reason.

        I’ve certainly noticed over my lifetime that there are stoners who are completely demotivated by the stuff, & that continual use thru the day makes concentrating difficult to nigh on impossible – but I also see many for whom a couple of cones or a toke or two of an evening after a hard day at the coal face produces no apparent ill-effects on their mental functions & job performance the next day.

    • Cannabis isn’t harmless, I only care about medical, where it has less harm than say, my wife’s methadone, etc. Interestingly, there is a genetic component to the cannabis harms.

      One day we could screen people and say “hey, you REALLY shouldnt be using that” with an actual good reason. In the UK it was quoted youd have to stop 20k people using cannabis to prevent one true case of schizophrenia, compared to early onset dementia triggered by alcoholism, the effects are overstated.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  July 21, 2017

        At that low level of sensitivity you would have to question the reliability of the evidence.

        • Gezza

           /  July 21, 2017

          I looked into this a few years back because my brother’s friend vehemently blamed cannabis use for the onset of her son’s severe schizophrenia, which happened when he’d been living away from home in Auckland for a couple of years. As I recall, even then, when I googled it, there was dispute in the psychiatric profession about whether it was a cause or a symptom, or just bad luck for someone who for whatever reason smoked dope.

          A 20 year old flatmate of mine developed severe schizophrenia seemingly overnight 40 odd years ago, & he was straight as a die, sober as a judge – almost a teetotaller, & never touched drugs of any kind.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  July 21, 2017

            I think that is a very typical age for schizophrenia to manifest, G. It would be very hard to connect it to anything abnormal. But I can understand his mother’s devastation and looking for a reason why it came out of the blue.

            • Gezza

               /  July 21, 2017

              Yeah. I liked her a lot. We got on well, but whenever I left she’d tell me bro I was a ‘druggie’.

          • whats not in contention is that cannabis exacerbates mental illness for those predisposed, bringing on symptoms earlier and stronger.

            If it truly CAUSED the mental illnesses then their would be a linear link in high cannabis usage countries with schizophrenia statistics. There simply isnt that population level link.

            On mental health in chronic pain though………
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28453948
            Essentiall significantly lower rates of depression and anxiety when using Medical Cannabis vs Opioids.