Monday, 24 September 2012

Mental health care for Newton

Successful treatment for Matthew Newton

After a string of assaults and alleged assaults, including domestic violence incidents involving two ex- partners, punching a taxi driver in Sydney and attacking a hotel receptionist in the US, Matthew Newton has recently been released from a high care mental health facility for treatment for bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. He previously spent time in a mental health facility in Sydney in late 2010.
His latest treatment has reportedly been a resounding success, with Newton currently free of medication and 'unrecognisable' according to his lawyer, since spending 84 days at the clinic, when he appeared in the Downing Centre Local Court to face charges over the taxi driver assault. His lawyer, Chris Murphy is making a second application to have the matter dealt with under the Mental Health Act, given his diagnoses. An application made earlier this year was rejected.

bipolar brainSection 32 of the Mental Health Act diverts people suffering from mental illness who have been charged with a crime from the criminal justice system and imposes a treatment plan. Charges can be dismissed with the condition that the individual undergo treatment.

Serious psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder are known to be associated with higher rates of violence, particularly when an individual is in a manic state.

ABC News Photo Illustration

While this is certainly no excuse for violent behaviour, having a diagnosed mental health condition can help to explain Matthew Newton's actions and can be taken into account as an extenuating circumstance in legal matters. Section 32 of the Mental Health Act exists in part, to help ensure that people who have a mental health condition and engage in criminal behaviour undergo appropriate treatment, which benefits both the individual and the wider community.

As his lawyer made the point via Twitter, you "can't cure mental illness with 'You stop that!'".

With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, most people with mental health conditions can lead happy, safe and fulfilling lives.