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Clive Kempson in 2018, raising funds with Domino for the Stroke Foundation. Photo: Penny Stephens.

More mental health support needed after stroke: survivor

A stroke survivor says more mental health support needs to be made available for Australians to help treat depression.

Clive Kempson suffered a stroke at work in 2015 and developed depression a few weeks later.

Self-employed, Kempson worried he wouldn’t be able support his family and, at his worst, he considered suicide.

“I was also internally questioning myself about how other people look at me,” said Kempson.

New research suggested reducing the use of medications to treat post-stroke depression.

Researcher Maree Hackett from the George Institute said antidepressants carried side effects, like confusion or gastrointestinal problems, which could put stroke survivors off taking them.

Hackett said untreated depression in stroke survivors could stop them from undergoing physical rehabilitation.

“If they have lost all motivation then they’re less likely to make the important lifestyle changes they need to make to avoid a second stroke,” she said

Instead of medication, Hackett recommended more use of therapies to treat depression.

She said depression among stroke survivors was common, often attributed to people experiencing a life-threatening event, coupled with the stroke’s physical effects on the brain.

Since his stroke, Kempson has been through six psychologists before finding one that was the right fit.

But he said more is needed for any Australian with a proven mental health condition.

Kempson wants the government to increase from 10 the number of subsidised sessions with psychologists, therapists or counsellors each year for people with mental health plans.

“People who haven’t suffered from depression and anxiety really don’t get it,” he said.

“There should be some way of the government funding all those extra sessions when its been proven that you need it.”

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