Content warning: this article refers to content that may be distressing for some readers, including information on suicide. If you or someone you know needs support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
World Mental Health Day is on 10 October 2023 and is an annual day supported by the World Health Organisation to raise understanding and awareness of mental health as a universal human right.
The World Health Organisation's main messages on this day are:
Mental health treatment providers across Australia are currently limited by staffing, funding, and resourcing pressures, contributing to many people not receiving appropriate treatment, care, and support in addressing their mental health concerns.
Today we share Jenny's story to help raise awareness about mental health in the community.
Jenny’s ex-husband, David, was a well-known figure in the local community as an avid local footy player and coach.
David had a history of mental health concerns throughout his life and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2019.
His mental health quickly deteriorated in the following months, so he attended multiple hospitals and outpatient care providers in Victoria seeking treatment. Jenny also contacted psychiatric services to express her concerns for his mental health.
The public hospitals repeatedly refused to admit David for inpatient treatment, and outpatient providers dismissed his ex-wife’s concerns, as he was categorised as ‘just having bipolar’.
David experienced difficulties in accessing adequate mental health care. He tragically died of suicide in October 2019.
Jenny, their children, and the local community still mourn the loss of David. The local football club has started each football season with a minute of silence to pay their respect to David and to those struggling with mental ill-health.
Jenny feels that she and David were both let down by the system. As a counsellor, she is heartbroken that the system she works in entirely disregarded her family's concerns for David.
Jenny is now navigating her own mental health conditions, which have been tainted by her newfound disappointment and distrust in the mental health system.
Jenny has dedicated herself to spreading awareness about mental health and suicide in the community. She has coordinated and volunteered at Support After Suicide and carers groups for years. Jenny also participates in walks, including the Suicide Awareness Week walks hosted by Chasing Change and Lifeline, every year.
She also volunteers in carer-led services to support those who have had similar experiences to her and her family. While this is extremely challenging given the traumatic nature of David’s death, this work is rewarding for Jenny to support carers and families who have experienced similar loss.
Unfortunately, David and Jenny’s experiences in the Australian mental health system are not uncommon.
If you (or your loved one) have experienced inappropriate mental health care or treatment, you may be entitled to seek compensation for negligent treatment and ongoing support.
We have represented hundreds of families following the treatment or death of a loved one in the context of mental health. We strongly advocate for the right to access adequate mental health services across Australia and support our team and clients through this process.
Our team of expert medical negligence lawyers are here to help you understand your legal options and to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
Resources available to those struggling with mental health issues:
Resources available to those struggling following suicide:
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.