At work I see folk who are suspected of having a mental illness and have been convicted of an offence. Really makes you think about how this is not the lucky country for so many people.
Stu came to see me today “because he needs to do what he is told”. He presents as a casually dressed young man who looks fit and was fully engaged in the interview. He was 40 minutes late for the appointment because he missed train the bus. Stu doesn’t remember much of his early childhood, before the age of 6. He has Attention Deficit Disorder and did poorly at school; he says he was only interested in sports. He did go on to do chefs, metal welding and fabrication courses at TAFE and gained a certificate of participation but didn’t really enjoy any of his courses. More recently Stu worked as a chicken catcher in Queensland and loved this job; the flexible hours, pay and opportunity to keep fit whilst at work. He had a similar job locally and was told he was in the top 5 chicken catchers. He lost this job because of erratic attendance, often due to the distance he was travelling to get there. Travelling is difficult because he lost his licence; he didn’t pay his fines and now owes about $6-7000.
Stu describes his mother as pushy and demanding and occasionally violent; “she is a big woman”. He says that her physical abuse of him is just “love taps” because of his size. Her current husband is Soth. He is American and Stu describes him as nasty, particularly so when he drinks and then picks on Stu’s younger brother. All Stu’s relationships with his siblings as problematic. His eldest sister is a doctor and he said that he could not use an accurate word about her because it would offend me. He had an altercation with his second eldest sister’s partner when they “would not let him alone” and he broke the door down and put him in hospital. He describes the bother he lives with now as “a naturally angry person” who is unable to talk to Stu without being aggressive;he uses physical violence to get Stu to leave the house.
Stu is now not working, and will begin community service this weekend, service he has to continue until August. He is living off Centrelink payments and is very half hearted about finding another job. He spends his days walking and hanging out with two close friends, the only people he describes who are in his life that are not violent. Asked whether he has fears or anxieties about leaving the house he said that his mother thinks he suffers from anxiety.
Stu gave up marijuana 4-5 months ago, he drinks little because “it does not agree with my stomach” and he does not take other drugs because he has a heart murmur for which he refuses to take medication “if anyone mentions medication I will walk out.” He describes his mood as ok “relaxed and laid back”, sleeping erratic but when he does sleep he does so uninterrupted, nil nightmares. His concentration is poor but he says that this has always been. Stu denies any flashbacks, persistent thoughts, his eye contact was good and he was articulate and engaged with the interview.
To me Stu’s most immediate problem is housing because the time he can spend at his brother’s is limited, however he is on the Department of Housing waiting list and does not want help with sorting this out. He said that he can see no merit in continuing to see me and therefore I told him that the service was here if circumstances changed and wished him well.
What are the chances Stu will stay out of trouble? How do we get these kids before they get into trouble? So many questions, so few solutions.
Story by Wiimali Court Liaison Officer Teri