This long tweet, originally posted here, by @bluesman5555 highlights the frustration many consumers of mental health services have with the Australian health system. I repost it here:

@mrchriswagner @johnalchin #mentalhealth If it were not for my private insurance – which allows me admission to private psychiatric clinics – I would not be alive today. The public system has failed me too often.

I have Bipolar Disorder. I was diagnosed about 20 years ago. It has never been well controlled, and I am no longer able to work. I receive the DSP.

I have had 35 hospital admissions – the longest 4 mths – and 3 emergency/intensive care admissions,I have also had 76 ECT treatments. I see my private psychiatrist weekly as my mood can cycle rapidly and my psychiatrist needs to evaluate my progress regularly.

My psychiatrist is understanding, he charges my a lower fee so the Gap payment is not too large, my family’s medical expenses are substantial and we reach both Medicare safety nets by about the end of April each year. We have already reached them for 2011. We also reach the PBS safety net by the end of May.

It is very hard to afford private insurance when receiving the DSP, Our family must budget carefully and make decisions about things such as personal entertainment, takeaway food , DVD rentals or pay TV, & of course no personal vices like cigarettes or alcohol. It is difficult, particularly on the children, but we just get by.

One major problem with the Public Mental Health system is its failure to provide post-crisis inpatient care. A couple of days in hospital during a manic or psychotic episode, or after a #suicide attempt, is not sufficient help a person recover. Discharge with community follow up does not provide the necessary care for people who are still very unwell.

Often a person is unable to manage the basics of personal care, the preparation of meals or medication compliance. There is also a risk of relapse shortly after a crisis.

The difficulty for me is recovery from depressive episodes. Mania can be managed fairly quickly,but recovery from depression can take months.

The ability to have longer post crisis admissions, and admissions when in a particularly vulnerable state is essential for the management of my illness. I cannot get this in the public system at present.

Many experts have called for additional long term acute beds for patients who do not fall under the provisions of a Mental Health Act It is time for governments – both state and federal – to provide funding for the infrastructure needed to provide the extra beds.

Additional community services are also necessary, funding for NGO’s to provide services in areas such as suicide prevention and ongoing in house support will provide targeted services delivered in a timely manner. This will go some way towards filling a very large gap currently existing in the provision of services to the mentally ill.