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Media statement from the RANZCP regarding the Flinders Street event

22 December 2017

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) would like to express its concern and sadness at the terrible and terrifying event which occurred on Flinders/Elizabeth Street yesterday afternoon.

‘While it has been raised that the alleged perpetrator may have mental health issues it is unclear at this time what those may have been,’ RANZCP President, Dr Kym Jenkins said.

‘Mental illness and violent crimes are not synonymous. Most people with mental illness are not violent, and it is incorrect to assume that those with mental illness are more likely to be violent criminals.’

‘Assumptions such as this only add to the awful stigma that surrounds mental health issues, and thus prevents many vulnerable people from seeking help,’ she said.

‘Yesterday’s events will have affected so many of us, not just those who were injured and their families but also those who were in the area and witnessed the event.

We are all thankful for the response of the emergency workers, police, hospital staff, and the public, however we must remember that they too are likely to be deeply affected by this event,’ she said.

‘It is vital that those struggling in the aftermath of this serious incident seek out appropriate mental health support services.

‘It is important to realise that trauma can affect everyone differently, just like there is no one way to experience grief there is no one correct way to deal with the aftermath of a traumatic event.

‘If in the weeks and months to come you find yourself unable to cope the best thing to do is communicate your concern to your General Practitioner who can refer you to a mental health professional for treatment,’ Dr Jenkins said.

For more information on the first steps to seek mental health support see our factsheet.

ENQUIRIES:  Jessica Antcliff (03) 9236 9107