Father reaching limits of patience

FRUSTRATION: 'We are constantly pushed around in circles,' says Philip Conza.
FRUSTRATION: 'We are constantly pushed around in circles,' says Philip Conza.

A Blenheim man who has battled for six months to get his step-daughter appropriate mental health treatment says he feels hopeless and alone.

Phillip Conza was receiving on average one police call a week as a result of the woman's behaviour and fears she will become a statistic if she does not get appropriate mental health care.

The 23-year-old has been diagnosed as schizophrenic by three different doctors but the diagnosis had been changed to post traumatic stress disorder.

She also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, behavioural problems and a personality disorder.

A letter from her GP said she was at risk of self-harm and of harm to others.

Conza said he had been kicked in the chest and spat at. He fears it would take a serious incident for her to receive the treatment she needs.

He said her behaviour had not abated in the six-months since she was discharged from Nelson Hospital mental health unit.

"Some days she is absolutely obnoxious and I am getting complaints from police that she has been peering through neighbours' windows. Neighbours said she had exposed herself and a lady who was handing out pamphlets was accosted and verbally abused.

"She has panic attacks and starts ranting and raving and being threatening. She shoulder charges people in town for no reason."

She refused to take her medication and Conza had to take time off work as a contractor to ensure she took her tablets.

He had found tablets hidden in the pockets of her clothing, inside her bedroom and lying on the lounge floor.

Mental Health Services were now starting to listen and she would get a scan on Wednesday to see if she suffered frontal lobe damage in an assault.

"I am worried if she does not get the care she needs, she will end up a statistic. I am getting exhausted. I have sat here crying. I say to myself: ‘Why can't I get help'?"

Conza has repeatedly rung the mental health crisis line for help.

"Mental health say contact police and police say ring mental health. We are constantly pushed around in circles.

"I don't want her institutionalised. I don't believe she would get any better under lock and key."

There was no respite care provision in Marlborough, Conza said. Work and Income said if he became her full-time carer he would get $230 a week, well below his weekly income.

He had read the Mental Health Act and tried to reason with it.

"It is crazy. Everything is tangled in red tape. I feel so hopeless. I am getting nowhere fast."

A spokesman for the Health and Disability Advocacy Service said it was important the woman's GP referred her to be reassessed by a mental health team.

"These young women with mental disorders is a very challenging area but that is not to say nothing can be done."

The Marlborough Express