For years, frontline mental health workers have spoken about how Victoria’s mental health system doesn’t deliver for consumers. Consumers deserve a holistic, integrated, responsive service system provided by qualified, skilled, and supported mental health workers.
Despite spiralling demand, staffing increases have failed to keep pace, leading to ongoing service breakdowns where staff and consumers are exposed to violence. While all Victorians are suffering the consequences of a failing mental health system, older people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and Victorians living in rural and remote locations are the most disadvantaged. These groups require flexible and tailored supports, including models of earlier intervention across all ages.
The Victorian Government has acknowledged the need for wholesale improvements to Victoria’s mental health system through its commitment to establish a Royal Commission into Mental Health.
Victorian mental health service delivery needs substantial reform. Flagrant core structural problems are long-term under-investment and lack of accountability of funding. The chronic under-investment in mental health services has occurred over a lengthy period where a service demand has spiralled, creating a dysfunctional system because of unmanageable workloads. With a 37% increase in new service users recorded last year, we see one mental health-related emergency presentation every 10 minutes in our hospitals.
These are the solutions the Royal Commission can deliver to address the chronic issues in mental health.