Integrated approach to mental health, drugs and alcohol needed


Shadow Minister for Health Giulia Jones will move a motion in the Legislative Assembly today that calls for better integration of the ACT’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation system with the acute mental health system.

Mrs Jones said many of the people admitted to our acute mental health system are suffering from a comorbidity of alcohol or drug addiction.

“The comorbid drug and alcohol issue is not dealt with in our adult mental health system; meaning that, upon release, patients are susceptible to relapsing into substance abuse,” Mrs Jones said

“My motion is calling for an integration of drug and alcohol rehabilitation into our adult mental health system so that both conditions can be simultaneously treated.”

Feedback received from people familiar with mental health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services in the ACT is that there is often a six or more gap between discharge from an acute mental health service and admission into a drug rehabilitation program.

“People admitted into mental health services lose their place in the queue for drug and alcohol rehabilitation; the transition from one service to the other service should be seamless.

“As the ACT considers decriminalising the possession of various illicit substances because substance abuse should be treated as a health issue, it is critical that we have properly integrated drug and alcohol services.

“I look forward to the debate on my motion and I hope the Health Minister and Minister for Mental Health will take the need for the better integration of these two systems,” Mrs Jones concluded.