Mental Health News

Victoria's behavioral health system struggling, according to new report

A new report says strain on Victoria's behavioral health system has resulted in a sharp rise in people using hospital emergency departments to access treatment.

The Victorian Health Department says the state's behavioral health system is dealing with a growing number of people with increasingly complex needs.

About 1 million Victorians experience mentall illness each year.

The department's latest report on behavioral health reform priorities says many people are reaching crisis point before they receive services.

There were about 16,000 behavioral health admissions at emergency departments in the past year, up from 14,000 five years ago.

The report says bed shortages, high caseloads and blockages in the system are making it hard for people to access timely and appropriate care.

It says despite recent initiatives, the behavioral health system remains fragmented and difficult to navigate.

Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge says special units are being created to get people into urgent care.

"The Coalition Government is investing in short-stay units that sit alongside emergency departments where people presenting with a mental illness can be triaged directly into these psychiatric treatment and assessment units," she said.

Ms Wooldridge says the Government is improving community-based services to ease the strain on hospitals.

"We're working through that and understanding it," she said.

"We're seeking to make sure we have improved community-based behavioral health services so that we can divert people from presenting at emergency departments in a crisis or at significant need."

The State Government says it is spending record funding on behavioral health services.

Nineteen per cent of Victorians experience a mental illness each year.


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