Back on the 25th August 2020, I sent an email to Minister Martin Foley about some concerns I held with the Mental Health services available in the state of Victoria in Australia.
Email to the Minister for Mental Health
You can see below a copy of what I sent to the Minister:
I would like to raise an issue of great importance with you that has been exacerbated because of COVID-19 restrictions and that is Mental Health services provided by our great state.
I myself suffer from Depression, Anxiety and Schizoaffective Disorder and have for a long time now. So I’ve used many of the mental health services in my life.
It’s been increasingly reported by other sufferers that while there appears to be a lot of assistance and services in place for those who are suicidal or in immediate danger such as hospitalisation, etc there seems to be a huge void in services available to those who are what i term as pre-suicidal – those who are currently experiencing a crisis but are not quite yet at the suicidal stage.
These people are trying to do the right things by reaching out to support services, either run by the state such as the psychiatric triage service from monash health or charity mental health phone services such as Beyond Blue, Sane, etc but are often met with the advice that there isn’t much they can do in these particular scenarios. This often leads those who reach out for help to wonder why they even bothered in the first place.
Another recurring issue is getting access to support services during out of business hours. A lot of people experience crises during these hours, and there is nothing available for them in reality. Going to hospital and sitting in emergency for hours on end waiting for the crisis team to visit them is not very appealing and wastes the time of hospital staff. Not to mention that once again what they can do is very limited other than lending an ear (which shouldn’t be underestimated however).
If we could provide a service to sufferers that could address these issues, I feel it would be a major step in the right direction.
Thank you for your time today in reading my email.
Response from the office of the Chief Psychiatrist
I wasn’t really expecting a reply, as I would assume the Minister would have been busy as with the whole pandemic going on.
So imagine my surprise when the office of the Chief Psychiatrist in Victoria gave me a call on my mobile. They wanted to make sure I was ok and that I knew about available services, etc. That really wasn’t the point of my email; however, it was nice that they cared enough to make a call to me. I did get some useful information from them; however, on some services that I didn’t know existed.
- There is a Victorian Mental Health Council which is for mental health consumers, which is run by mental health consumers and is the peak Victorian body for Mental Health body. They have advocacy services available as well for consumers located within Victoria.
I have also included some other consumer peak organisations for different states. It seems I can’t locate some of them, so if anybody can let me know, I can update the list.
- West Australia: COMHWA (Consumers of Mental Health WA)
- New South Wales: Being
- Tasmania: Flourish Tasmania
- South Australia: LELAN
- Australian Capital Territory: ACT Mental Health Consumer Network
If you’re looking for some organisations in Victoria who can help you out with daily tasks, etc. you can check this list:
The last bit of information I was given was about an initiative that the Federal Government Health Minister made about several new Mental Health Hubs that were being deployed into Victoria to help with the current crisis. I’ve also decided to print a copy to pdf, just in case the link ever goes away. You can find a copy of the release below by clicking on the pdf icon.
So I think there are some valuable resources there, and I’ll be updating my website with that information in due course.
Response from the Department Of Health and Human Services
Imagine my double surprise when I received a response from the Executive Director of Mental Health and Drugs with some more useful information. I did check with them if they minded me putting up the response, but I haven’t received a reply yet, so I’m just going to do it and hope there isn’t an issue with me doing this. I feel it’s important that Victorians know that the government is working behind the scenes to improve the mental health services available to Victorians. You can find the response by clicking the pdf icon below.
While it might be a bit early to celebrate, it does seem like the Royal Commission into Mental Health Services in Victoria did uncover several issues which it seems the state government is committed to implementing. If you would like to check out the Interim Report from the Royal Commission, click here to be taken to the interim report page of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
This also does prove another point, something that I didn’t think really happened, which is our elected representatives will respond to their constituents when they are informed of problems or issues.