The Bay Post/Moruya Examiner has taken the unusual step of putting an opinion piece on our front page. That is how important we think Dr Michael Holland's personal story is. The surgeon has frankly and bravely shared his own struggles in the hope politicians of all persuasions will listen and provide the mental health services the Eurobodalla Shire needs. He tells his story below.
Why does a rural obstetrician and gynaecologist feel so strongly concerning the provision of mental health services in his local region?
What is the relevance for his patients, his community and his family? One-in-five adult Australians experience mental ill health in any year.
If you are one of the 80 per cent fortunate enough not to personally experience the temporary or long-term distress of mental illness, you will have had a partner, parent, son or daughter who has lived with this problem at some time.
We all have some lived experience of mental health illness.
Our experiences are as varied as our lives in general and no one person's life, illness or recovery is exclusive or outstanding to any other.
Sharing this common experience reinforces our common humanity and helps us support and advocate for our community.
He became an alcoholic and inflicted violence on my mother in our homeDr Michael Holland
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My great great grandfather migrated to Australia from Germany in the 1860s.
He was a shepherd who settled in the New England region of NSW.
Following personal trauma, he suffered from "melancholic depression" and was admitted to Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in Sydney where he died and was buried hundreds of kilometres from his adopted home. This should not happen to anyone.
My father fought in the Second World War in New Guinea and represented Australia as a Kangaroo.
He became an alcoholic and inflicted violence on my mother in our home.
This should not have happened to her, my brother or my sister, or any woman or child. This should not have happened to him.
What shouldn't happen is that our family and friends with acute mental health illness are admitted to hospitals more than one hundred kilometres from their home.Dr Michael Holland
My brother became an alcoholic with mental illness. After years involving mental health services and services for the homeless, he died prematurely having lost contact with his family. This shouldn't happen to any man.
I have a niece with severe social anxiety which restricts her normal daily functions.
I have a wife who has suffered from postnatal depression like more than one-in-seven new mothers.
I have two beautiful and loved daughters whose mental ill health crises have caused them to overdose on medication requiring hospitalisation.
This shouldn't happen to any of them.
I came to the Eurobodalla 16 years ago.
We need acute adult inpatient services in a level 4 regional base hospital.Dr Michael Holland
I arrived here suffering suicidal ideation and have suffered from it since. I have never acted on these thoughts. These fleeting haunting ideas are shared by five per cent of our population. I can now look at trees as things of beauty and not agents of my fatality.
It shouldn't happen to me, but it has and it continues.
None of this should happen to any of us but it does.
What shouldn't happen is that our most vulnerable community members cannot access local specialist psychiatric services.
What shouldn't happen is that our family and friends with acute mental health illness are admitted to hospitals more than one hundred kilometres from their home.
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We need improved primary outpatient community services.
We need support for general practitioners, mental health nurses and psychologists. We need youth mental health services.
We need drug and alcohol services. We need comprehensive perinatal and early parenting mental health services.
We need acute adult inpatient services in a level 4 regional base hospital.
That's what should happen.