How a Government of hollow men ‘failed’ the patients
PROFESSOR John Mendoza made headlines last week when he tendered his resignation from the National Advisory Council on Mental Health (NACMH).
Council member Professor Ian Hickie aptly described it as “a very sad day for mental health”.
For many years, Professor Mendoza has been at the forefront of campaigning for action on mental health, most notably as CEO of the Mental Health Council of Australia. He was also one of the authors of the 2002 seminal report into mental health care in Australia, Not For Service.
He previously regarded his appointment to the NACMH in June 2008 as the “most important public service responsibility of my life”. But he has since expressed great frustration that he was not able to achieve more in the role.
The council had been set up in recognition that mental health policy was failing and a new direction was required, he said.
“The evidence of that failure was... everywhere: in our prisons, in our hospitals and in our homeless populations” he told MO.
“All of those things were understood by Labor and they understood the need to change direction.
“But it’s fair to say after two years that there was no commitment and no vision of mental health. There were simply hollow statements that there was more to do on mental health and [that] we’d get to it at some point.”
Professor Mendoza says he will continue to advocate for the needs of the mental health sector. Will he accept another government role? “I’m not sure. That’s a matter for them at some time.