‘Proper strategy’ needed for regional mental health

Elsie Lange

Macedon Ranges mental health organisations echo the Victorian government’s call for more comprehensive funding and support for services.

The state and federal governments are stoushing over the delivery of multi-billion-dollar mental health funding, as Victoria argues the federal government is falling short of its responsibility for a national plan.

The plan, worth $2.3 billion, came in response to a Productivity Commission review which found deep seeded and costly issues in Australia’s mental health care system.

On March 9, Mr Andrews said the federal government had only put forward a “but a fraction” of what the state had invested in mental health, and said “it’s being dressed up as a national plan”.

“We have significant challenges with remote communities and regional communities,” Mr Andrews said.

Woodend Youth Live4Life chief executive Bernard Galbally said the “hub and spoke” approach to mental health service provision failed regional Victoria.

“If you’re a young person and are wanting to get a service, to see a counsellor, or a psychologist, a clinician or somebody else, you cannot see anyone,” he said.

Mr Galbally said he agreed with Premier Daniel Andrews’ comments calling for the federal government to increase its mental health funding.

Mr Galbally said it was not only about funding, but about coming up with strategies to recruit, train and incentivise workers to move into rural communities.

“We do need to make sure we are investing in preventative approaches, and also with a rural and regional lens,” Mr Galbally said.

“The hub and spoke approach has not worked, and it’s vital that both the state and federal governments are able to get this agreement through.

“Because we need more than money thrown at this issue, we need a proper strategy,” he said.

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health manager Adam Stefano said the key to supporting regional youth mental health was early intervention and the easy access to a diversity of services.

“Currently, we are limited in staff that can provide mental health services in the Macedon Ranges, particularly for young people,” said Mr Stefano.

“Whilst we constantly work to service the community, the demand tends to overwhelm the resources available.”

If you need mental health support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.