Additional $59.7 million for mental health to relieve pressure on emergency rooms

August 10, 2020

With a significant increase in mental health issues across the state – pre, during and expected post COVID-19 – the VHA welcomes the Victorian Government’s additional support of community mental health services across Victoria, aimed at reducing the pressure on hospital emergency departments.

The additional $59.7 million boost to Victoria’s mental health system is designed to give more Victorians support when they need it – now and after the pandemic is over and its effects are still being felt.

Chief Executive of the VHA, Tom Symondson says the additional funding to increase community-based mental health will not only deliver immediate support during the COVID-19 response, it will also help the system prepare for the future.

‘Mental health is one of the biggest issues of our time and with Victorians feeling isolated as a result of Stage 4 restrictions and under significant pressure, it is critical that our mental health system supports Victorians in the community as much as possible and keeps them away from our hospitals,’ Mr Symondson.

‘We know emergency departments are not the best places to support people experiencing mental health issues, which means community-based mental health services must be strengthened to meet these needs and allow them to play their vital role in ensuring access to the best possible care.’

‘From people who have lost their jobs, to school students adjusting to remote learning, to our health professionals dealing with the worst public health crisis of the century, the mental health impacts on our communities are truly wide reaching and need a coordinated response.’

The funding for health services includes:

  • the extension of opening hours in mental health community clinics
  • increased outreach by community mental health services and all 15 Melbourne based headspace centres.
  • additional public acute mental health beds, part of 144 new beds planned for Geelong, Epping, Sunshine and Melbourne
  • state-wide roll out of Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program – to Box Hill, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Monash Clayton, Heidelberg and Broadmeadows, Warrnambool and Mildura.
  • additional clinical capacity for existing HOPE sites in Albury Wodonga and Ballarat.
  • additional mental health counselling and support for nurses, midwives and personal care workers.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Lifeline Australia (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1800 512 348), or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).

For media enquiries please contact jack.walden@vha.org.au or call 0428 300 090.