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Prozac prescription pits parent against patie -

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ELEANOR HALL: The mother of a Gold Coast schoolboy says she's furious that her son was prescribed
the anti-depressant Prozac without her knowledge.

The 16-year-old had been given the prescription from a GP at the youth mental health service,
Headspace.

But that service is defending the doctor's decision, saying young people using their service have a
right to expect confidentiality.

Charlotte Glennie reports from Brisbane.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Sue is the mother of a 16-year-old boy who's been told he's suffering from
depression.

MOTHER: He told me that the career's adviser had booked him - advised him, sorry, he didn't book
him directly - he advised him to book an appointment with this place called Headspace because he
had been feeling down.

And the day he did go to the Headspace, he came to me, I said: "How did you go?" He handed me a
prescription for Prozac.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Sue says other options like counselling should have been considered before this
one.

MOTHER: I definitely believe, especially for 16 years old, it is a last resort, not a first contact
resort.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Sue says she's also angry that no effort was made to bring her into the
discussions as to what was appropriate for her son.

MOTHER: To me, I don't think he's depressed at all. I think he has fallen behind in school, fallen
into a hole and looking for a scapegoat.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Sue's son had seen a GP at Headspace, a Commonwealth-funded Youth Mental Health
Service.

Headspace's Gold Coast service is one of the busiest in the country. Its manager Kate Swanton says
young people use the service because they know it's confidential.

KATE SWANTON: Unfortunately this age group does not usually access care.

We know that in the Gold Coast there's been a number of really large surveys that have shown lot
and lots of young people have got quite serious mental health issues.

But before Headspace existed they just weren't accessing help. And that was often because of
confidentiality.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Headspace says it tries to get parents involved in young people's treatment
plans. However as the president of the Gold Coast Medical Association, professor Philip Morris
explains, it's not obligatory.

PHILIP MORRIS: Obviously 18 is the age of consent.

But in Queensland and I think in many other states from age 16 upwards, young people can go to a
doctor and get a prescription for anti-depressants or any other medication including the oral
contraceptive pill, without being forced to notify their parents.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: Dr Gretchen Hitchins is a Gold Coast GP who specialises in working with young
people with mental health problems.

GRETCHEN HITCHINS: Certainly some young people who are - in my experience, who are being treated
for mental health and drug and alcohol problems don't come from happy homes, and so there isn't
anyone to tell or there isn't anyone who cares.

However in a young person who does come from a supportive home environment they may well then feel
- it may be that they have some concern about the stigma of having a mental health problem and
that's why they don't want Mum and Dad to know.

The young person might think I don't want to worry Mum and Dad. Mum will get very upset if she
knows what's going on.

We have to think of this in the perspective of what's going on the mind of a 16-year-old.

CHARLOTTE GLENNIE: The mother of the 16-year-old boy who was prescribed Prozac says she's worried
many other teenagers are being given anti-depressants unnecessarily.

MOTHER: I'm lucky that I do have a good relationship with my son. But how many other kids are going
there and not speaking, not communicating with their parents, and taking a drug that just makes
them numb.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the mother of the boy who was prescribed Prozac ending that report by
Charlotte Glennie in Brisbane.