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The views and opinions expressed in our blog series are those of the authors and are not necessarily supported by CareSearch, Flinders University and/or the Australian Government Department of Health.
Mental health and palliative care patients: the “treatment gap”
Sadness, social withdrawal, depression, loss of hope; if a non-palliative person experiences any of these feelings, the health care system has well established processes and services to treat them. Why then do we accept this as ‘normal’ and ‘to be expected’ for those facing the end of life? Why does the system hesitate to ‘label’ these vulnerable people with a mental illness tag?
Mental illness in the terminally ill is too often underdiagnosed and undertreated. It’s frequently ignored – “well of course you’re having trouble coping, you’re dying,” – or pushed aside in favour of addressing clinical symptoms. While existential and psychological care is acknowledged as being crucial to providing quality end of life care, people continually report that theirs, their families and care givers needs in this domain are not addressed.
What if we knew how to respond to death and loss when it happens in our family, workplace and community?
What if we knew how to access end of life and palliative care when we needed it?
What would it be like if more of us were willing and able to respond well to death?
What if we planned for death like we plan for other important life events?