Recommendations made in two damning reports into Australia’s ability to treat patients with borderline personality disorder (BDP) have been ignored for two years by state and federal governments.
The reports detailed an illness that poses serious challenges to frontline medical staff.
Senior psychiatrist Dr Martha Kent was a lead author on both reports for the federal and South Australian governments on how to deal with BDP patients, and says the label can be misleading.
Rather than referring to a problem with a patient’s personality, the name traditionally refers to the mix of symptoms located on the border between psychosis and neurosis.
The condition can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms including wildly fluctuating mood swings, chronic self-harm, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and, for one-in-ten sufferers, the disorder can result in suicide.
“Virtually every major mental illness can be represented within a borderline personality disorder diagnosis,” she said.
7.30 can reveal Dr Kent’s reports highlighted major gaps in service delivery and found that patients are often treated poorly or not taken seriously by hospital staff.
“I am sure that people are harming themselves and dying as a result,” she said.
The reports recommended setting up targeted services in each state and more training for frontline staff.