Topics:  autism, disability, health, mental health

Small win for anxious family

Brenton Morris's family is battling to get the help he needs to manage his mental health issues.
Brenton Morris's family is battling to get the help he needs to manage his mental health issues. Contributed

SUNSHINE Coast parents fighting for better treatment of their 19-year-old son's mental health issues have won a review of his situation.

David and Jessica Morris have known since their son Brenton was born that he would have lifelong difficulties.

Diagnosed autistic, he grew up in a normal school environment, doing modified courses inside the curriculum, played football for Caloundra Shelley Park United and Kawana and was active in church youth groups.

But in his final year of school they began to see signs he was not coping. He became depressed and was not progressing.

Brenton found employment with Endeavour, but began to have episodes where he would rant and scream, bang walls and pace constantly.

When the parents sought assistance from Nambour Hospital's mental health unit they were told their son was not psychotic.

They say the unit continues to deny responsibility as the central point of psychiatric care - in spite the fact two psychiatrists, two GPs and a psychologist told them during escalating episodes - to call the unit for help.

Mr Morris said the unit had however visited Brenton during a serious episode at a respite centre where he had claimed he wanted to "kill all evil people".

After being bounced between Disability Services Queensland and Queensland Health's Mental Health Unit, the family has been offered an inter-agency meeting next week to discuss appropriate care for their son.

The family, who have three other children, have watched as their son went from being a happy, socially engaged teenager to something they barely recognise.

His behaviour has prompted his father to call for police help.

Brenton now lives outside home in assisted accommodation which has seen him moved four times in recent weeks, resulting in lost reading glasses and items of clothing.

Mrs Morris has taken to freezing portions of family meals to remove him from a constant diet of takeaways.

Brenton wants to come home, something the couple say is not possible because of the impact his behaviour has on his brother and sisters, who are receiving counselling.

They are seeking an immediate independent assessment of their son's emotional and mental condition, psychiatric and psychological treatment and stable and appropriate accommodation to enable Brenton's smooth transition to supported independent living.

They fear without early, focussed intervention their son is a car smash waiting to happen.

Mr Morris has launched a website called HelpBrentos.com which outlines his son's story and seeks input from parents facing similar problems.

The couple says parents of children diagnosed with mental conditions need clear roadmaps to guide them in delivering appropriate care.

And Mr Morris has asked why more progress has not been made in delivering on the recommendations for a more collaborative inter-departmental approach made by Justice Carter in his 2006 report, Challenging Behaviours and Disability - A Targeted Response.

Justice Carter's report in part found that "crisis management, invariably stressful and inevitably expensive not uncommonly has been marked by a perceived lack of interdepartmental co-operation and an insistence on bureaucratic 'gate keeping".



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