An Eaton doctor who was told his mental health clinic would attract “less than desirable people” has spoken out about stigma attached to mental illness.
Integro Health’s Dr Paul King applied to the Dardanup Shire Council to move his clinic to Eaton Drive last month.
His application was met with one objection from a nearby homeowner, who said the clinic “poses a grave security risk”.
During discussions with a council officer and Dr King, the objector said “not stereotyping all with mental health issues but certain individuals ... will be less than desirable”.
Dr King said he was disappointed by the nature of the objection and said it was evidence of the stigma and prejudice people suffering mental health problems experienced.
One in five Australians suffer mental health problems and two out of four people would experience stigma, according to Dr King.
“A lot of people assume with mental health we’re talking about people in acute psychosis or who are criminally insane,” he said.
That is an ultra-small minority.
“Most patients we treat are working, contributing to society, everyday people you’d come across.”
His application was approved by the Shire and received mass support on a Facebook post made by the South Western Times.
Dr King said there was a lot that needed to be done to continue reducing the stigma because it stopped people from asking for help.
“A lot of people suffering mental health already feel guilty, inadequate and ashamed and the stigma feeds all that negativity they have, which makes their situation far worse,” he said.
“The more people who actually talk about mental health, the more it will become normalised.”
“Often when people finally talk with other about their struggles all of a sudden there’s three other friends that say they’ve had that problem too… sharing helps get rid of that stigma.”