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Commitment needed to fix mental health mess

The redesigning of mental health services in Victoria by the previous state government has proven disastrous for vulnerable people and Jesuit Social Services welcomes the Andrews Government’s commitment to ‘work with service providers to fix the mess and ensure Victorians who most need help can get it’.

Central to the recent changes was the introduction of a phone intake system and the simultaneous de-funding of many well-respected and long-running community drop-in centres which acted as an entry to mental health services for highly vulnerable groups.

“We know relationship is the foundation stone of support for someone with complex mental illness,” says Jesuit Social Services acting CEO Sally Parnell.

“Asking them to pick up a phone and speak to a stranger about intimate details is always going to prove a barrier.”

The review by Aspex Consulting shows access to support dropped by 20 per cent, that there was a lack of early intervention and a breakdown in coordination between mental health, community services and drug treatment services.

“Intake and assessment to mental health services forms the building blocks for successful service delivery and must be funded properly and designed in a way that reaches out to those most in need,” says Ms Parnell.

“We believe that mental health services should be delivered in a manner which encourages and supports participants to access the services they need in a socially inclusive, acceptable and welcoming way.”

Jesuit Social Services also strongly supports the government’s 10-year mental health strategy and, in particular, the following points which we believe are fundamental to promoting well being and recovery.

  • Increasing the proportion of people with mental illness in stable, affordable and safe housing.
  • Enhancing support for economic and social participation for people with mental illness.
  • Reducing recidivism among people with mental illness in contact with the justice system by improving support to them, particularly forensic patients and Aboriginal people.
  • Providing coordinated support for people with co-occurring mental health and drug and alcohol problems.

“We call on the Andrews government to commit the funding necessary to effectively deliver on these strategies and improve outcomes for all Victorians.”

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