Lee Hancock pushing ahead for change in mental health

Getting better: Lee Hancock has met with local health district representatives in his bid for changes to access and funding of mental health services. Photo: Peter Daniels
Getting better: Lee Hancock has met with local health district representatives in his bid for changes to access and funding of mental health services. Photo: Peter Daniels

A greater access to psychosocial services in regional areas is just one goal for Port Macquarie man Lee Hancock.

In May this year, Mr Hancock went public with his own experiences following a mental health episode.

While supportive of mental health staff at the time he presented to Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Mr Hancock said he wanted to raise his concerns about the direction of funding and the community's responses to mental health.

Since those public revelations, Mr Hancock has met with Mid North Coast Local Health District consumer partnerships coordinator Nicholas Kosseris and representatives from the mental health ward at the base hospital.

He is likely to meet with Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams as early as next week.

Mr Hancock has consistently called for changes to the way mental health is funded and has provided a number of recommendations.

He has also participated in a consumer advisory group meeting/conference call where he shared his story and also gave similar recommendations. 

Mr Hancock has declined to make a formal complaint.

"It was my opinion that such a process would achieve very little, rather constructive criticism and a true ongoing relationship would be of more benefit to the the people who everyday experience what I did or similar," Mr Hancock said.

"I am calling on greater transparency in terms of funding within the region and with a rapidly growing population of close to 1.6% as reported by Port Macquarie News, the requirement for improved health infrastructure is arguably more important than investment in road or other projects that seems to be currently taking place throughout the area. 

A purely economic argument would suggest that sick leave of all forms, including for mental health reasons is a significant cost to businesses.

Lee Hancock

"A purely economic argument would suggest that sick leave of all forms, including for mental health reasons is a significant cost to businesses."

In NSW the average small to medium enterprises loses $26536 in productivity a year due to sick leave, he said.

Holistically healthy employees are more productive. If access to the essential psychosocial services were improved than it’s likely that SMEs will benefit economically, he said.

"For those who see beyond the pure dollars, more needs to be done as there are too many within our community, especially youth and young adults who suffer in silence.

"They fear, as have I that their family, friends but most of all their work will struggle to comprehend or understand such ‘health’ issues. 

"Although it’s great to see mental health getting more attention, we should refer to this as what it is, a ‘health’ issue. 

"There is no separation between the two and they have an influence upon one another and the sooner as a society we realise this, the sooner we will be able to combat this issue collectively."

Mr Hancock said he remains passionate about further pusuing the issue.

If you or someone you know needs crisis support phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, for local mental health services in the community phone the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.

Mr Hancock has created a change.org site.

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