The present system is not designed or equipped to support the diverse needs of people living with mental illness or psychological distress, families, carers and supporters, let alone to cope with unforeseen pressures that may arise. The 2019–20 severe bushfire season and the COVID-19 pandemic shone further light on the pressures on the mental health system.
The system’s failures can be linked to its origins. In the 19th and 20th centuries, people living with mental illness were separated from the rest of the community and housed in institutions. These institutions began to be dismantled from the 1980s, with a desire to move towards a community-based model of care. But while there has been social change since then, such as a strengthened focus on protecting and promoting human rights and the consumer movement, Victoria’s mental health system has not kept pace. It has drifted away from its earlier aspirations of a community-based system and now relies too heavily on hospital-based services and emergency departments.
- Create good governance arrangements for promoting good mental health and preventing mental illness
- Establish a responsive and integrated mental health and wellbeing system
- Help people find and access treatment, care and support
- Support responses from emergency services to mental health
- Support good mental health and wellbeing in local communities
- Establish a new, statewide trauma service
- Develop system-wide involvement of family members and carers