Examining the Royal Commission’s Report onVictoria's Mental Health System Crisis

The Victorian mental health system currently operates in crisis mode. This was what the Royal Commission final report finds, as the number of people struggling with psychological issues continues to rise amid the pandemic. 

The commission acknowledges the profound failures of the system, so it urges the state government to rebuild the system to resolve any looming issues. This includes boosting underfunded community-based services and major changes to stop having hospital emergency departments as assistance entry points.

Facts about VIC's Mental Health System Crisis

One in every five Victorians suffers from mental illness while about 3 per cent of the population or about 200,000 people per year experience “severe” psychological conditions

Around 60,000 Victorians look after an adult who has a mental illness, including about 9,000 young people. Also, 25% of children are living with a parent with mental illness. 

Current status of Victoria’s mental health system

The final report finds that the state’s current mental health system is not designed to support the different needs of Victorians who live with psychological conditions, their families, supporters, and carers. It is not intended for continuous learning, change, and improvement.

Since the system is already overwhelmed with people seeking care, treatment, and support, it became overly reliant on medication. With limited investment in training and studies, it also has difficulty obtaining publicly-funded clinicians, researchers, quality specialists, and experienced research people.

Mental health response amid the pandemic

Initially, the government’s coronavirus response focuses on boosting citizens’ morale, mental health, and wellbeing. It later offered to maintain mental health care by utilising telehealth as well as boosted crisis lines, like Lifeline and Brother to Brother for the Aboriginal males. Recently, the government also allocated new digital and face-to-face resources to further accommodate the increasing demand for treatment.

The Victorian government is commendable as acknowledging mental state is vital during a disaster, worsened by economic recessions. These measures programmes are said to reduce the unique threats to Victorians’ lives.

The Royal Commission’s key ideas on enhancing Victoria’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

As the mental health system in Victoria operates in crisis mode, the Royal Commission finds solutions to alleviate the situation.

The Royal Commission outlined 65 recommendations in the final report. Penny Armytage also said a reform on mental health services with people having compulsory treatments in the emergency department in a hospital as the last resort. Premier Daniel Andrews said that the parliament will implement these suggestions.

The report also urged the government to offer stable housing. However, Premier Daniel Andrews said the parliament has not yet calculated the cost of implementing these recommendations.

Need for a mental health system overhaul

The Royal Commission’s report said an overhaul of the mental health system is vital in resolving past profound failures. However, such major reform will cost billions. Nevertheless, Premier Daniel Andrews said the government will ensure better care.

According to the report, Victoria should work closely with the parliament and other states to ensure the change is properly implemented amidst this mental health crisis.

The commission noted that these recommendations shall deliver the largest social transformation. Instead of the police, distress calls should be directed to ambulance officers to ensure proper care response. These distress calls include reports on suicide attempts or suicide deaths.

Also, access to various emergency department services in regional and rural areas should be improved to prevent people from travelling far across the state to get help. Moreover, the commission said the government should provide incentives to encourage young people to work in rural areas.

Call for upgraded facilities, more services, and law reform

Victoria's Mental Health System Crisis

The Royal Commission’s report also calls for a levy tax or to help fund new mental health services while the government still needs to define how those recommendations will be established.

The following are among the recommendations to improve Victoria’s mental health system:

The report said people’s experiences should be established and integrated into designing services. The commission also said that people with mental conditions only received help and support when brought to prison.

Need for legal reforms Victoria's Mental Health System Crisis | My Delta Care

There are also recommendations about the state’s justice system. First, Victoria’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Act should be amended to focus on service monitoring as well as lowering the costs of compulsory care and treatment in emergency departments.

The report proposes to create a sustainable and adaptive system that responds to Victoria’s future needs, identifies, and offers new ideas. The Royal Commission also recommends building a purpose-built facility called Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Melbourne

The centre will bridge the gap and lead the research and collect evidence, which can be transformed into valuable care, treatment, and support across the mental health system. It will act as a guide for service delivery and policy law creation. The centre will also include a Trauma Service across the state to ensure the best mental health outcomes are provided for those who experienced trauma.

Key points

Royal Commission chief, Penny Armytage, outlined 65 recommendations to alleviate mental health and wellbeing in Victoria. These include rebuilding Victoria’s mental health system, providing new psychological support services, modernisation of facilities, and the need for legal transformation.

The report aims to provide measures to push the government to act on the mental state of Victoria. Visit Delta Care website for health updates in Melbourne, Victoria, and the rest of Australia.

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