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In The News  
Drugs and Vental Illness Link is Real
13th November 2005

The Mental Health Council of Australia is advising that the link between cannabis use and drug related psychosis is irrefutable and there is a need to review strategies to reduce demand and supply.

"Evidence on the relationship between cannabis use and drug related psychosis has only emerged in the past five years; but it is not clear if there is a causal relationship," Council CEO John Mendoza said. "The Council is also receiving strong anecdotal evidence that the number of drug-related psychosis presentations to emergency departments and admissions to hospital psychiatric units is rising."

There are a number of calls for education programs in this area, and the Council supports a properly researched and funded national educated campaign on cannabis.

"The evidence is that because of the high level of acceptance of cannabis use in the community, people will dismiss messages about the relationship between using the drug and serious health consequences," Mr Mendoza said.

"It is right to inform and educate the community on this serious health issue. What is needed to both inform the community and change behaviour is a properly researched and funded public education campaign supported by a broad mix of strategies addressing supply reduction and demand reduction.

"We simply do not know how extensive the problem is because Australia does not have uniform reporting on the matter. If we are to devise successful strategies and treatments, we need uniform national reporting and data collection," Mr Mendoza said.

Drug use and mental illness often go hand in hand. But people experiencing mental illness also involved in substance abuse are regularly shunted from one service to another. The Mental Health Council’s recent Not For Service Report included many stories from consumers, carers, and clinicians pointing to the disconnection between drug and alcohol services and mental health services, resulting in a failure to properly treat people with a dual diagnosis.

A key recommendation of Not For Service calls on governments to integrate drug and alcohol and mental health services so people can receive appropriate treatment for all their health issues.

"Resources to integrate the drug and alcohol and mental health services are urgently needed. This has been an issue for over ten years, and now is the time for governments to act," Mr Mendoza said.

"We also need to ‘connect-up’ our approach to these serious social and health issues at the national level. At present there is little to connect the National Drug Strategy, the National Mental Health Strategy and the Suicide Prevention Strategy," Mr Mendoza said.

Media Contact: Deborah Nesbitt 02-6285 3100 / 0417 289 111
Sue Thompson 02-6285 3100 / 0407 425 952

The Mental Health Council of Australia is the independent, national representative body of the mental health sector in Australia. MHCA members include representatives of mental health service consumers, carers, special needs groups, clinical service providers, public and private mental health service providers and state/territory mental health peak bodies.

Reproduced with Permission

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