Mental health continues to be a significant issue on the Darling Downs, with the region recording one of the highest numbers of matters before the Mental Health Tribunal.
Mental health continues to be a significant issue on the Darling Downs, with the region recording one of the highest numbers of matters before the Mental Health Tribunal. Jose Antonio Sanchez Reyes

Darling Downs shock therapy among highest

THE Darling Downs had the second-highest number of matters before the Mental Health Review Tribunal of regional centres across Queensland.

About 749 matters from Warwick and Toowoomba were dealt with across 708 hearings and 100 tribunal sittings.

It had one of regional Queensland's highest state-sanctioned electroconvulsive therapy rates with 18 orders made in 2013-14.

The region also had the third-highest number of Queensland forensic order reviews last financial year at 140 (28 of those were for indigenous people) and the second-highest number of indigenous patients at 63.

However, the Downs bucked the statewide increase trend with a fall in its statistics compared to 2012-13.

Tribunal president Barry Thomas said the region was in keeping with the statewide trend of a 6-12% increase in the last financial year.

Despite its dark past, Mr Thomas said ECT was a common treatment and there was no need for concern over the steep increase in orders.

"ECT has attracted a lot of adverse comment over the years," he said.

"Early on when they were developing ECT it was quite a terrible episode because they didn't give the right sort of muscle relaxants - so people would actually break bones.

"Now you might see the toe wiggle a bit and it's all over in 20 minutes where somebody is put into a phase of sleep and muscle relaxant - as they recover from it they can get on with their life afterwards."

Mr Thomas said those fronting the tribunal generally had schizophrenia, bipolar effective disorder or severe depression.

Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland branch chief Tony Stevenson said the MHRT figures were a drop in the ocean compared to the situation in the broader community.

"When you're talking about the mental health tribunal that agency deals with people who either have come before the courts and need to be assessed as to whether they are able to stand trial because of mental illness or they're people who have got a serious psychotic episode such that the mental health system believes that they're not capable themselves of making decisions about their treatment," he said.

"So when you have a look at those figures they are pretty low really compared to the population in those areas."

The tribunal has 1689 sittings across the state.

There were 11,454 hearings, 12078 forensic order reviews and 528 electroconvulsive therapy orders.

- APN Newsdesk



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