Monday, September 26, 2011

Three cheers for ..... Janet Albrechtsen

I was keen to watch Q & A on the ABC tonight because the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing was one of the guests, and I was hoping that someone might throw a good question in his direction about the way that federal mental health policy is being dictated by a small group of psychiatrists with questionable ideas, or question the redirection of funding away from psychology to psychiatry. Pharmaceutical companies must be pretty pleased that resources are being funneled away from mental health professionals who do not have the qualifications or the legal right to prescribe drugs, while funding is being boosted for mental heath services aimed at young people (potential long-term customers) which include psychiatrists as administrators and staff, who are qualified and able to prescribe drugs. I'm not claiming that drug companies are directly involved in dictating policy directions, but they do have a widespread and often hidden influence, and the cards appear to be falling their way.

There was one fairly good question in the show, but I thought the highlight of the show was not any criticism of government policy from the Liberal Party member on the panel, nor any question from a member of the public, but it was a comment from the conservative commentator. I guess Janet Albrechtsen was invited onto the panel in the hope that she would liven up an evening which threatened to be as bland as cool porridge, with pollies and public figures falling over themselves look like the one most concerned about mental health, in an entirely uncritical manner. It's a good thing that Ms Albrechtsen has a fair quotient of assertiveness. Even the host of tonight's show, Virginia Trioloi, showed a clear bias against those who dissent from the popular McGorry view of mental health. Was Janet Albrechtsen the only person in the show who knew about the controversial nature of the aspirations of psychiatrists such as Prof. Pat McGorry and Prof. Ian Hickie? That certainly wouldn't be true, but it appears that she was the only person willing to talk about the subject. Go Janet!

Q & A

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