JOHN Brogden was NSW opposition leader when his career unravelled spectacularly in 2005, costing him his job and triggering a widely reported suicide attempt during his fall from grace.
The former Liberal MP steadily rebuilt his life and returned to prominence, primarily as an advocate for improved mental health services, and also as an executive, his most recent appointment coming last year as CEO of the NSW government agency Landcom.
As we report today, Mr Brogden will be in Newcastle next Tuesday to speak about mental health, and to encourage the community to "embrace" rather than "ignore" a collection of conditions and diseases that affect as many as one in five Australians every year, but which still attract a stigma in a way that physical illnesses don't.
Related reading: Deaths by suicide up by nine per cent
Governments regularly boast of increased funding for mental health services.
However, the reality for those needing quick treatment can be frustrating, as the father of a young woman referred to Hunter Health's Centre for Psychotherapy in Newcastle tells the Herald.
Those with private health insurance can seek help from a burgeoning private mental health sector.
For those relying on the public system, waiting times can be impracticably long, as indicated by the likely 18-month wait faced by the young woman diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder".
Such delays, especially for acute and episodic conditions, are unsatisfactory.
But the complexity of modern health care means that spot injections of funding don't always work, often because the pressure point is simply shifted to another part of the system.
As chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Lucinda Brogden - a businesswoman with post-graduate qualifications in psychology who is also John's wife - knows more about Australia's mental health infrastructure than most.
Last year, she signed off on a progress report on a five-year national mental health and suicide recovery plan that acknowledged a lack of "funding and resources" as "commonly reported barriers" to accessing mental health services across the nation.
The acute and episodic nature of many mental health conditions mean that timely treatment is crucial.
Especially when those being treated for mental health problems have morbidity (death) rates almost twice as high as the general population.
For help, contact:
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
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