Mental health legislation overhauled in Queensland

Published 05 May 2015

Mental health legislation has been addressed in Queensland, after state authorities determined that the existing laws were no longer fit for purpose.

Health Minister Cameron Dick explained that laws need to serve the interests of mental health patients and the wider community, and the 15-year-old regulations that are currently in place are insufficient.

It is estimated that almost half of Australians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. This can severely impact on other areas of their general wellbeing, as well as potentially give rise to more total permanent disability claims.

Mr Dick continued: "We owe it to Queenslanders with mental illness and those who interact with them to get this right.

"These draft laws that we've proposed will strengthen the rights of mental health consumers as well as giving more of a say to family and carers."

Among the proposals is for safeguards for the use of physical restraint to be tightened, and giving courts the power to decide whether forensic patients should be required to wear GPS monitoring devices.

Helping Australian businesses deal with mental health issues

Mental health problems can take any number of forms, and in many cases, companies simply do not know how to deal with employees who suffer from them.

One of the most common conditions is anxiety, which beyondblue reveals will affect as many as a quarter of people. A survey carried out by the charity found that only half the population is aware that anxiety is not a part of a person's personality.

Not only this, just six in ten of the survey's respondents understood that anxiety is not simply a form of stress and is a condition in its own right.

"An anxiety disorder is not part of a person's personality and it's ridiculous to think so," noted beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman.

"If people continue to see anxiety conditions as just stress or a character trait, they will never seek help and they will never get treatment."

It is in the best interests of businesses to make sure people with mental health problems are provided for. The fact that the Queensland government is giving this greater priority indicates that this is an issue that needs to be dealt with through decisive action.

Medibank Private's The Cost of Workplace Stress in Australia report found that stress-related absenteeism alone costs Australian employers $3.48 billion a year. It also leads to around 0.47 per cent labour productivity loss on an annual basis.

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