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Govt's BPD policy "manifestly inadequate", advocates warn

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The State Government’s plan to address systematic failures in the treatment of South Australians suffering borderline personality disorder is “manifestly inadequate”, advocates have warned.

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Borderline personality disorder

In her final act as Mental Health Minister last week, Leesa Vlahos signed off a $1.2 million policy to train hospital and community mental health staff in appropriate care for sufferers of borderline personality disorder and establish a team of “up to eight dedicated clinicians” to “provide specialist BPD support in the mental health system”.

The Government has yet to detail what exactly the clinicians will be asked to do, or where they will be posted.

Australian Borderline Personality Disorder Foundation patron Janne McMahon told InDaily this morning the policy was “manifestly inadequate for what’s needed”.

“It’s very limited in its scope … it’s very disappointing,” said McMahon.

“What we need is a specialist BPD service that incorporates access (… to) evidence-based therapies.

“It’s a start, but manifestly inadequate for what’s needed.”

She called on new Mental Health Minister Peter Malinauskas to match the Liberal Party’s $10 million election pledge for a statewide BPD service, based on successful models interstate.

McMahon argued the Opposition’s policy, which would establish specialist treatment hubs across SA and a centralised coordinating body, would make a significant difference to the lives of people suffering BPD, and their families.

“First, people would get better; people would recover,” she said.

“It’s a very complex and serious mental illness (… but) the good thing about BPD is that if you do access evidence-based programs and treatment, then you do recover – unlike (some) other mental illnesses.

“There would be less presentation to emergency departments.

“The other policy pales into insignificance.”

Co-founder of BPD carer support group Sanctuary, Judy Burke, told InDaily: “In SA we are well overdue for a coordinated statewide approach to evidenced-based treatment and support for those most affected by BPD, and their families and carers.”

“Following the Liberal announcement, on Monday 18 September, the current SA Government announced $1.2 million over two years for a funded BPD policy.

“Whilst the Government’s allocation is a start, it is paltry in comparison to the Liberal promise.”

But Malinauskas told InDaily this afternoon that: “Like all of their commitments to date, the opposition’s policy on Borderline Personality Disorder lacks detail, including costs.”

“This month, the State Government announced it would establish a specialised borderline personality disorder service, following recommendations made by the Mental Health Commission and consultation with experts,” Malinauskas said.

“The service is designed to reduce hospital presentations and admissions of those with Borderline Personality Disorder, and lower rates of substance abuse, self-harm, suicide and restraint.

“We will evaluate the service’s effectiveness as it is rolled out to ensure it is meeting the community’s needs.”

InDaily has seen a letter from then-Minister Vlahos to a BPD patient last week, whom we have chosen not to name, concerning the policy.

According to the document, the $1.2 million will go towards case management, training for clinicians and improving access to therapies and support.

“This marks the beginning of better services for people with BPD, including their families and carers,” the letter reads.

“The Government is looking forward to working with the community to ensure these services are best-practise and readily available for those who need it.”

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