Expanded investment welcomed as the waves of need increase
The Federal Government’s announcement this week of a $32 million mental health package for Victoria has been welcomed by many, and not just in Melbourne.
The further investment is another example of how clear and quick decisions, and action, during this pandemic are potentially changing the face of our mental health ecosystem.
An ecosystem that is constantly evolving to meet the increased waves of need resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve seen it with the increase in tele-health service delivery over the last five months. We’ve seen it with homelessness, and how state governments taking people off the streets to find them short term safety in hotels and motels has shifted the focus and need for additional longer term support.
And now we’re seeing action and investment to address the yawning gap for community based accessible mental health care. Action that will hopefully meet the increased need of those in Melbourne and regional Victoria, where many are entering their eighth week of lockdown and are still uncertain as to how long such restrictions will continue.
At the heart of the announcement is the establishment of nine metro, and six regional clinics in Victoria, that are integrated with existing health services and will aim to provide access to multidisciplinary team support. These clinics have the potential to become a game changer in meeting immediate need as a consequence of the pandemic.
But what if they also become a catalyst for a model to scale up and address the community based mental health services nationwide?
What if they work so well, that we need to roll them out state-by-state to address the need that was already there, as well as the increasing waves of need that we all know are coming?
The tide has turned, and these increased waves of need will be more and more evident as the financial strain, economic and social impact and overall hardship of the pandemic truly reveals itself over the coming months and years.
On the ground, it will be imperative these clinics are established quickly, are well-founded in the Integrated Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plans developed through the Primary Health Networks and local hospital networks, but also fundamentally informed by the leadership and design of consumers and carers.
To maximise this investment in mental health service expansion, but also the potential to spread these services across the country, we need to be confident the models are effective and that the right evaluation procedures are in place. We also need to measure just how well these clinics can cope with the increased waves, and in doing so calm the tide.
An opportunity for change and reform that before a pandemic could have taken months or even years to get off the ground, establish and evaluate, but now another example of how with common goals between federal and state governments in response to the community need, we can invest in and develop more services and potentially start to really address the gaps that we all know are there.
Have a good weekend.
Thanks to Dr Ruth Vine for today’s Mini Members Policy Forum
A quick thanks again to my friend and colleague Dr Ruth Vine, following today’s successful presentation as part of our Mini Members Policy Forum Webinars via Zoom. As the new Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, Ruth’s presentation addressed the fragmentation and integration across the machinery of the mental health system and highlighted her role to provide high level clinical and policy advice to the Department of Health on critical mental health issues.
To see the full presentation, and others in our series of Mini Members Policy Forums please click here.
Special webinar on Monday 31 August at midday:
social prescribing, a script for better living
I hope you can join Consumer Health Forum CEO, Leanne Wells and I for an important webinar on social prescribing on Monday 31 August from 12 midday.
Social prescribing, the emerging remedy in Australia to counter chronic health problems through support for social therapies, is to be the focus of a special #CHF Talks webinar being presented by Consumer Health Forum and Mental Health Australia.
Social prescribing involves the referral of patients to non-medical activities, ranging from health and fitness programs to movie clubs and meditation.
The webinar comes amid increasing recognition of the value of social prescribing in supporting positive therapies for people experiencing stress and loneliness as a result of isolation during COVID.
The webinar will feature Canadian social prescribing leader, Dr Kate Mulligan, with Australian GP exponent, Dr Mark Morgan, practice leader, Jayne Nelson, and youth health consumer advocate, Georgia Gardner.
To find out more, or to register click on the link below.
On Monday I’m looking forward to meeting with Margo Lydon from SuperFriend and Catherine Lourey, NSW Mental Health Commissioner.
On Tuesday I’ll be catching up with Christine Morgan, CEO National Mental Health Commission and also with the Department of Health for our regular monthly meeting. Also on Tuesday afternoon I’ll be meeting with Rural Health Commissioner Dr Ruth Stewart.
On Wednesday I’ll be taking part in the second governance and commissioning roundtable being held by The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
On Thursday I’ll be taking part in the National Peak Bodies Bushfire Recovery Coordination Forum in the morning and then we have a Mental Health Australia Finance And Risk Management Board Committee meeting in the afternoon, followed by a briefing on the “Rural and Remote” Working Group that I chair for the National MH Workforce Strategy Taskforce.
On Friday I’ll be wearing purple for Wear-It-Purple Day and have a Supported Independent Living Workshop with the NDIA in the afternoon.