RANZCP again calls for focus on mental health needs in detention centres after death at Villawood

The peak body for psychiatrists is extremely distressed and saddened to hear of the reported death by suicide of a New Zealand woman in the Villawood detention centre and says the death should prompt a greater focus on mental health needs in detention centres.

The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Chair of the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Mental Health Network Committee, Dr Kym Jenkins, said it is critical the newly formed Labor government launch an urgent investigation into the death at the detention centre, particularly in light of reports suggesting that medication timing issues may have played a role in the woman’s death.

'The RANZCP would like to express its condolences to the woman’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time', Dr Jenkins said.

'It has been stated that the death may have been related to medication not being provided at times requested by the woman, which is incredibly concerning. Medication is one of several important tools in managing many mental health conditions. In some instances the timing of medication can be crucial for its effectiveness'.

Dr Jenkins said the RANZCP has long advocated for policies and practices in all detention centres that accommodate basic healthcare needs, including providing appropriate medications.

'Policies and practices in any detention centre must accommodate basic healthcare including providing medication at requested times'.

'It has been shown that detention centres are detrimental to the mental health of detainees. Those with existing mental health conditions are particularly vulnerable'.

'The RANZCP believes that on mental health grounds it is inappropriate to accommodate people with no security concerns in detention facilities. The mental heath of these people will be better in the community rather than a detention facility'.

'The RANZCP again calls for adequate attention to the mental health care needs of those in detention. If detention is needed, detainees need to have access to the same level of care available to those in the community'.

'It’s critical the newly formed Labor government investigate the circumstances of this death and also take action to ensure the mental health needs of those in detention are adequately provided for'.

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For media enquiries or to arrange an interview contact 0408 584 439.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.

In Australia: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au or the Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au.

In New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.org.nz or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or www.lifeline.org.nz/suicide-prevention. 


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