Acute shortage of WA psychiatric help
Western Australia’s mental health system does not have enough psychiatrists or beds to cope with demand for treatment, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
Members of the Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists WA told a hearing on Wednesday that the state needed twice as many psychiatrists and 70 more acute inpatient beds to meet demand.
The committee also heard there was an urgent need for more beds for people aged 16 to 24.
WA opposition spokesman for mental health Stephen Dawson said the evidence came at a time when up to 50 per cent of children assessed as needing acute inpatient care were turned away from hospital because there were no mental health beds available.
In some cases, young people were being kept for days in hospital emergency departments, Mr Dawson said.
“This latest information confirms that the state’s mental health system is in crisis,” he said.
“Families of young Western Australians, particularly teenagers, with mental health issues are constantly telling me there are not enough mental health beds to offer adequate treatment.
“We know the numbers of young people committing self-harm are on the rise and the numbers of teenagers seeking treatment at hospital emergency departments has more than doubled in the past five years.”
Mr Dawson said the Liberal state government had failed to act on all the recommendations of the Stokes Report into the state’s mental health system handed down two years ago.
“It seems there’s lots of planning going on about the mental health system but very little action,” he said.
“It’s time for the Barnett government to immediately fund more youth mental health beds and tell us how they plan to fix the broken system.”