By Melissa Raven
Psychiatric epidemiologist and policy analyst and
adjunct lecturer in public health at Flinders University
April 10, 2010
AUSTRALIAN of the Year Patrick McGorry’s impassioned calls for reform of youth mental health have generated considerable support, including a community advocacy campaign recently launched by GetUp.
However, analysis of his opinion piece in Weekend Health (“Mental health needs early care”, February 6-7) reveals that his enthusiasm for early intervention seems to be clouding his interpretation of evidence. Decrying timid, non-evidence-based advice, he gives bold non-evidence-based advice.
McGorry claims there’s compelling evidence that early intervention costs one-third as much as standard intervention.
However, this claim is based on selective evidence specifically about psychosis, not mental illness generally.
He claims that early intervention for psychosis has much better outcomes in terms of return to work and quality of life, but his own data in a Schizophrenia Bulletin paper last year show no significant differences.
McGorry misrepresents an Access Economics report. Far from showing that early intervention is cost-effective, it concluded that there was insufficient data for a cost-effectiveness analysis.