In response to this article

John Mendoza writes candidly about his personal experience, and the deep affect it has had on his life is not to be dismissed as it is ever present in his words. I support his direction of thinking, of approach and especially his proactive response to the issue of suicide and self-harm in our Australian society.

I myself contacted our State’s government earlier this year proposing the implementation of a national programme focused on preventing and reducing Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Self-Harm & Suicide to secondary school students, tertiary students and all their relevant care givers. My proposal was delicately rejected with sightings of what is currently being done at a state level – hmmm, remind me how affective that is again?

I digress, so getting back to John Mendoza’s illustration of hospital EDs and the failings experienced by many people presenting with acute mental health issues, I can’t help but raise my own thoughts toward the situation.

It is not our hospital EDs or any of the on-hand medical staff that is failing patients who present with attempted suicidal or self-harm injuries it is us; their community and the system who has failed them.

As a member of community how can we do more to support others who are experiencing issues such as suicidal ideation, self-harming behaviours? How can we prevent these same members from needing to present at hospital EDs?

The system fails those presenting at ED for what is needed for the individual suffering is, time. Time to be sat with, to be comforted, to be heard. Please give me just one example of a hospital ED where any single member of staff has the luxury of time – just one. Nope, no one? Hospital EDs are not the place for a person with suicidal ideation, for a person who for whatever their reason has felt the need to cause themself physical injury. Yes, first aid is often needed, but not in this environment. Putting this individual into a bed and then leaving them there, isolated, unheard, quite possibly heavily sedated or just sending them home telling them not to do it again – come on, who really thinks this is going to fix ‘the problem’.

Let’s look at the system, let’s address our community and let’s understand the individual who is experiencing cognitive distress and emotional pain. The system is not set up nor is it prepared to treat, handle, manage, whatever term you’d like to name it, with individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis. The fact that such large numbers of our community present tells us that it’s not just the pointy end of the system that isn’t working.

In our community we can support ourselves as well as each other by truly understanding what it means to experience a mental health issue, become aware of what a range of ‘normal’ thoughts and feelings are, identify if thoughts and feelings are impacting negatively in our life, know who we can turn to for advice and support, model behaviours of openness and productive communication, learn that the majority of mental health issues are emotion related, increase our emotional and social intelligences and accept our self as well as each other for our similarities and our differences.

Each and every individual member of our community will experience a range of emotions, a variety of thoughts. Each person will behave in their own time and way to experiences, to challenges, to their own life. Know who you are, feel where you belong and never be afraid to ask for help if whatever you experience has an unexpected affect on you.

I don’t for one minute think this is going to be an easy task, nor do I expect this challenge to be conquered quickly. What I do believe though is that it can begin to be actioned now, today. What are we waiting for, another committee, a follow-up report of the current NMHC report? Let’s not waste more time and more money contemplating thoughts, let’s just jump in and spend the money on trying out some new initiatives surely it’s better to have tried and not succeeded than to have not tried.

#preventMHI @mutuworld