Dual Diagnosis Program in Australia

By individuals

A new mental health program launched in Melbourne today aims to fill a gap in health care - providing help for young people suffering from the combination of mental illness and drug abuse.

"The Connexions program has been identified as one of the few schemes in the world to simultaneously tackle mental illness and drug abuse" said Father Peter Norden, director of Jesuit Social Services which operates the program. He said many young people with a mental illness resorted to drug use, thus becoming less likely to receive adequate assistance from either mental health centres or drug services.

State Health Minister Rob Knowles, who formally opened the program, said last year's national health report highlighted the need for services assisting young people with both chronic mental illness and drug abuse. The National Mental Health Report released last July found that half of Australians with a mental illness did not receive any assistance. "It's not a new phenomenon, but it is time, as a nation, that we seriously try to address the issue", he said. Mr Knowles said people had to recognise mental illness and drug abuse was a dual disability which had to be treated as a mainstream health issue.

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