Queensland’s mental health system, like the larger health system, is complex with many different components.
As we embark on a mission to create an integrated mental health, alcohol and other drug system, we need to carefully consider what it is that we are really trying to achieve.
At the end of the day, we are looking to create a more seamless experience and better outcomes for those who need assistance with their mental health or substance use, and to help prevent mental health problems where we can.
Whatever we do in the pursuit of integration, I would stress that it is important that we still be able to see the different parts.
To use a fruit salad analogy:
- If we serve the fruit whole, a person might take a strawberry and a banana. Very few will have an orange and a banana. But we can see what is on offer.
- But it we pop it in the blender, add some cream and make a blancmange we will get a bit of everything, or we might just get artificial colouring, a bit of flavouring and lots of gelatine.
- That’s why I am all for fruit salad. Served in a balanced and integrated way, but you can see what you are getting – and you can pick out the bits you really don’t like.
And so it should be with mental health services, integrated but visible – but just as it is fine to only have an orange sometimes, so it should be fine to access just one specific service, be it mental health or drug and alcohol, if that is right for you.
We do not want the various pieces of the system to become invisible, diluted and disappear – it’s in no one’s interests if all we do by integrating services is create a blancmange.