Date: Monday, September 22, 2008
Getting adequate care a big challenge for people with drug and mental health problems
Most people with serious co-occurring drug and mental health problems have poor treatment outcomes and this is not helped by health care systems that do not adequately reflect the needs of individuals. Experts are calling for improvements to existing service systems to enable the identification and management of co-occurring disorders in a more integrated way that meets the needs of affected people.
According to Professor Steve Allsop from the National Drug Research Institute in Perth, who has edited a new book on the subject of drug use and mental health, people who are drug dependent experience a high prevalence of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, and suicide risk is increased among this group. Also, drug use is much more common among those with mental health problems than in the broader community.
However, although people with serious co-occurring drug and mental health problems tend to access health services more frequently than individuals affected by a drug problem or mental health disorder in isolation, they are more impaired, experience more disability and have poorer treatment outcomes, in addition to contributing to higher health and other costs in the community.
"We have a situation where historically mental health staff have not been trained to respond to drug problems, and drug treatment staff have been ill-prepared to respond to mental health problems", said Prof Allsop. "Some practitioners and services simply don't want to know about a co-occurring problem – they may miss or ignore the issue, or just be unclear about how to respond effectively".
Professor Allsop said that recent concern about methamphetamine use, which has been associated with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and psychosis, had highlighted some of the existing problems.
"Some services have been reluctant to treat, or have actively excluded, patients experiencing mental health problems related to illicit drug use, leaving patients to fall through the cracks at a particularly vulnerable time, and causing huge frustration for those trying to obtain adequate care for them", said Prof Allsop.
"The sheer prevalence and diverse range of drug and mental health problems dictate that no single service will always be able to respond to all problems, but it is essential we build the capacity of the respective systems to respond to co-occurring disorders and ensure more coordinated and integrated care", said Prof Allsop. "While we should welcome some of the recent initiatives that better equip both mental health and drug specific services to respond effectively, there is still a significant challenge".
Prof Steve Allsop will be launching the book, Drug Use and Mental Health: Effective responses to co-occurring drug and alcohol problems*, at a National Drug Research Institute seminar in Perth on Tuesday 23 September, together with Dr Ali Marsh from Curtin University of Technology, who is one of the book's contributors.
Professor Steve Allsop
Director, National Drug Research Institute
Phone: 61 (0)8 9266 1600
Mobile: 0407 967 964
Communications Officer, National Drug Research Institute
Phone: 61 (0)8 9266 1627
Mobile: 0414 682 055
* Drug Use and Mental Health: Effective responses to co-occurring drug and mental health problems.
Edited by Steve Allsop, Professor and Director, National Drug Research Institute
Published by IP Communications, Melbourne, Phone +61 3 9811 6818 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following contributors to the book, Drug Use and Mental Health: Effective responses to co-occurring drug and alcohol problems, may be contacted for further media comment:Dan Lubman Email: email@example.com Mobile: 0408 284178
Dan Lubman is a consultant psychiatrist and senior lecturer in addiction psychiatry at the ORYGEN Research Centre, University of Melbourne. He leads a clinical research team focused on investigating substance use and comorbidity in youth.Michael Baigent Email: Michael.Baigent2@health.sa.gov.au Mobile: 0427 042781
Michael Baigent is associate professor at Flinders University. His is a clinical academic who works in both the mental health and drug and alcohol sectors. He is also a clinical adviser to beyondblue. His clinical and research interests are in co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.Ali Marsh Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: 0410 658 930
Ali Marsh has worked in the addiction field in Perth for 20 years in various roles, including researcher, educator, clinician, and advocate. She is currently senior lecturer at Curtin University and senior clinical psychologist at Next Step Alcohol and Drug Services.
David Castle Email: email@example.com Office Tel: 03 9288 4751
David Castle is chair of psychiatry at St Vincent's Health and the University of Melbourne. His interests include cannabis and mental illness, and treatment approaches to people with dual problems of substance abuse and mental illness.