Fame outs

Greg Cornwell 27 February 2017 1


The ACT welcomed the opening of the $43 million Dhulwa mental health facility in November 2016. It accommodates 10 acute and 15 rehabilitation patients.

According to a Personality and Total Health through life project (PATH) which assessed mental health and wellbeing in the ACT, severe mental health impairment measured 21.3 percent (408 people) in the 20’s age cohort, 16.4 (334) in the 40’s and 9 (171) in the 60’s.

While the numbers surveyed are small, there is no reason to doubt the overall percentage accuracy of the statistics. However the reasons for the impairment are unclear. Drugs including alcohol perhaps in the younger cohort, dementia in the older, but these are guesses.

Further Dhulwa’s services appear not to be needed in most cases with the facility’s involvement in our criminal justice system limited with the qualification “only a small number will require this level of care” and the caution “complex care needs are not met”.

What the latter disclaimer means is unclear. Are we dealing with several mental problems calling for multidiscipline attention or dangerous psychopathic behaviour which must be addressed elsewhere?

We do know however pleas by defence lawyers in our Courts would indicate the statistics quoted earlier are well below the number of people committing offences and their reasons for doing so, which, if true, suggests Dhulwa is too small.

Over recent years a new mental health development has emerged: depression. It has claimed lives and perhaps due to our increasingly frantic and competitive lifestyle will pose a growing threat.
It is recognised as a silent killer, oblivious to others, but more recently and due to well publicised examples we have seen the problem exposed in at least one guise: fame.

Here we see the cult of celebrity and the effect upon a person when the adulation is withdrawn, when your halcyon days are over, you are now a past legend, icon or great and suffer from attention deficit disorder – no more stories or pictures in the media.

It appears to affect those in the sporting world more than elsewhere. These often are ordinary people with extraordinary skills who, while not experiencing just the fifteen seconds or minutes of fame many of us enjoy, have only a limited time in the limelight before age or injury removes them. Some become commentators, some coaches, but the majority fade away. Even some who make a successful transition find it is not enough to replace the earlier glory.

Other public faces adapt better. Stage and screen performers usually have longer careers, politicians take up government positions, businessmen and women move around directorships.

It is easy to blame the mass media for building egos but being the sports-mad territory that we are they feed the voracious appetite for news about champions, so it behoves our many sporting organisations to recognise the effect of fame upon vulnerable ordinary people and help them make the change back to normal life, otherwise depression tragedies will increase and Dhulwa may have to expand.

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One Response to Fame outs
HenryBG HenryBG 11:29 am 02 Mar 17

It’s bad enough that the media obsesses with people like the Kardashians, now we have to read about a medical situation shared by hundreds of thousands of Australians in the context of a very small handful of seriously entitled people who have chosen a life in the media spotlight….

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