Australian Couple Fights for Better Care After Son’s Death

The availability of mental health care, including therapy services, hospitalization, and other types of treatment has significantly risen in recent decades, yet many parts of the world experience programs and institutions that cannot keep up with the demand for treatment, a situation that can often lead to tragedy. One such tragedy occurred for an Australian family over two years ago, as a man being transferred to a mental health crisis center after a medication overdose was held in waiting for over twenty hours. The man decided to end his life while waiting, an event which shocked and saddened his family and brought greater attention to local mental health issues. Yet in the years since the incident, note the parents in a recent article calling on the Australian government and other authorities to improve programs, measures to provide a larger number of beds at crisis centers and in emergency rooms have been lacking.

The couple describes advocating mental health services throughout their community, emailing local representatives and agencies, and becoming active in efforts to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by those with mental health needs. Nevertheless, scores of people continue to face considerable waiting times just to be seen by a professional or obtain a place to rest, which can sometimes contribute to a sense that services are unable to help, dealing a harsh blow to clients’ optimism and sense of the potential for recovery. Local mental health professionals, however, have noted the family’s strong role in encouraging measures to improve care, showing that even when action takes longer than desired, advocacy can be a powerful source of meaningful change in a field that is essential in the lives of millions of people.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • kimi s.

    kimi s.

    January 29th, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    most people just see to it that they get what they require and are not bothered about the well-being of others but to have lost something yourself and still work to ensure that others do not suffer the same fate takes courage and takes a lot of devotion in the persons doing it.

  • harris


    January 29th, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    I completely agree with kimi.It takes a lot of courage to help such people.

  • scott


    January 29th, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    I would say that Australia being a well developed country should look into such kind off situation .Its the matter of life and death.

  • todd


    January 29th, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    The government should take positive steps to improve the facilities.

  • Nelson collin

    Nelson collin

    January 29th, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    The change can only be brought about if people satnd together for the people in need .

  • Alana


    January 30th, 2010 at 6:16 AM

    I find it so sad that people often have to go through the most horrible situations imaginable before others will sit up and take notice of the improvements in the system that need to be made. Sometimes it makes me want to shout to the rafters about how many lives have to be lost before others will take notice and begin the hard work of making the changes that need to be made. Families are torn apart by mental health disease and it has not been until pretty recently that more of the population has come around to caring about those kinds of issues. It makes me sad for the families who have had to endure these heartacvhes and it makes me doubly sure that better care is something we all need to take a stand for. Who knows when our family memeber or members could be next?

  • Lucy


    January 30th, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    Whatever happened with that family was sad indeed… it is very hard to understand as to why people who need care in case of an emergency are made to wait…all these things should be rectified by facilities all over or there is a chance of losing lives for no reason…

  • Nichole


    January 31st, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    Keep up the fight- what a wonderful legacy that will be

  • Sally


    February 1st, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    If somehting like that would have happened in the US there would of course be outrage but I still can’t say that enough would be done to prevent it from happening again. I hope that in Australia that same is not true. We need more people putting up a fight for their loved ones who are crippled by mental health diseases but we all know that this is hard work. But something has to be done to improve the care all the way around- I had never heard this story but it does inspire me to become more involved in local issues and to hopefully make a case so that something like this does not have to happen again before there are people who become interested and want to do something about it.

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