Letter of the Day

Society can be toxic

Given that 166 million kids worldwide aged 10-19 suffer a mental disorder and 46,000 end their lives every year as revealed by a UNICEF survey, it is indeed “disturbing” that Australia has among “the highest rates” of such disorders (“Teen mental shock”, HS, 5/10).

Perhaps it is not surprising that “drugs aren’t doing a very good job” as Adelaide University child psychiatrist Jon Jureidinia suggested, because the “ill-health” could be about society, rather than particular patients.

Diagnosing their patients without any conscious awareness of their social and economic circumstances could contribute not only to prescribing unsuitable and inappropriate medication, but more tragically, miss the “main causes of (the patient’s) mental distress”.

Recent research in this country has focused on the need for mental health professionals to embrace a more holistic and individual perspective with patients across all ages, but as the royal commission into Victoria’s mental health system uncovered only a couple of years ago, too many patients are still treated without that regard.

It seems crucial professionals reappraise their approach by realising their patients’ distress may be a reasonable response to the “ill-health” of their society.