ONE of the saddest days of Andrew Wallace's life was when he had to drop one of his daughters, who developed anorexia nervosa at about 10 years of age, at a secure mental health facility.
"I felt like an abject failure," the Member for Fisher said.
"It's a secure mental health facility and you're dropping your daughter off, and she's just hit puberty, if that.
"And you're literally dropping them off and handing them over into a prison. I'll never, ever forget that day."
His daughter's condition deteriorated to the point where she was hospitalised in Brisbane.
"We were told at one stage there that because she'd lost so much weight that she might just not wake up one morning," he said.
Mr Wallace said mental illness could break families, and there was "absolutely not enough support for parents going through this kind of thing".
He said having health professionals trying to help but making you feel that your parenting was part of the problem cut to the core.
"They don't know whether it's an environmental thing or a genetic thing, and you can't help but think that the medical profession are trying to basically make it up as they go along about the best way to treat people," he said.
"In some respects you feel a bit like a guinea pig."
In Brisbane, treatment through one of his daughter's doctors made he and his wife feel "we were being blamed for my daughter's condition", he said.
"That's really hard to deal with, seeing your daughter wasting way and you're being blamed for it."
He acknowledged his family's experience was a decade ago and science and practice may have improved.
But, he said, the need for more research into the causes and treatment of mental health problems remained urgent on the Coast.
Youth, families, people with any mental health challenges including returned servicemen and women, all need better services, he said.
As the Federal Member for Fisher, Mr Wallace last night used a speech in parliament to back a new world-class mental health facility that the University of the Sunshine Coast is developing at Birtinya.
USC announced yesterday that the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience - Thompson Institute now includes the university's psychology clinic, which had been located at the Sippy Downs campus for 10 years until its relocation to the new integrated research, teaching and clinical services facility.
In an interview yesterday Mr Wallace said the facility had the potential to investigate the effectiveness of treatments including the drugs prescribed for various illnesses - essential research, in his view.
In his speech in parliament last night, Mr Wallace said the Sunshine Coast was recognised as a hotspot for youth suicide and was home to a growing number of people with mental health challenges.
"One in five Australians will suffer from a mental illness in any given year. Each day, five males and two females commit suicide," he said.
"In 2014 alone, 108,120 years of potential life were taken away by suicide. Despite the obvious social consequences that accompany mental illness, there are significant economic consequences that must also be considered.
"The costs associated with mental illness in Australia equate to around $60 billion. That represents 4% of our GDP and is the equivalent of 12 million working days being lost each year."
He said earlier this year the Thompson Institute appointed mental health expert Professor Jim Lagopoulos as its inaugural director.
"Jim's pioneering techniques in the use of MRI, magnetic resonance imaging, on brains have brought science closer to finding the cause of schizophrenia, and he will be continuing his own team's research on neuroimaging," he said.
"Just as importantly, he will be educating the next generation of brain scientists and specialist doctors and will work closely with the team at the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital."
Mr Wallace told the Daily he was pushing for the Federal Government to contribute $10 million toward the Thompson Institute.
"I am lobbying very hard for the Federal Government to provide funding to the Thompson Institute to the tune of $10 million and that $10 million will, if I'm successful, go in part to the purchase of a special MRI that would allow them to do long-term longitudinal study of a patient on the long-term effect of drugs (medication)," Mr Wallace said.
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