Orygen welcomes interim report of Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System

Orygen welcomes interim report of Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System

28 November 2019

Orygen welcomes the interim report from the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health, and strongly supports the Commission’s analysis of the depth of the problems across Victoria’s mental health system. These problems have resulted in an unacceptable number of Victorians who are experiencing mental ill-health missing out on the services and care they need and deserve.

The executive director of Orygen, Professor Patrick McGorry, said the Royal Commission’s analysis had been made possible through the courage of the thousands of people who shared their experiences of Victoria’s mental health system with the commissioners by giving evidence at the hearings, engaging in the community roundtables, or making written submissions.

The Royal Commission’s interim report provides a number of important recommendations to address urgent priorities in mental health crisis and acute care. The report signals the significant reforms in system governance and funding that are needed to ensure that the ongoing critical underspend and neglect of mental health service delivery in Victoria is addressed.

Professor McGorry said he was pleased the Commission had recommended the development of a Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

“The deliberations on the Collaborative Centre have been influenced by the ambition of the Orygen clinical model and the attention it has achieved nationally and internationally,” Professor McGorry said.

Clearly the Commission is listening and we are encouraged by the rhetoric of reform and focus on opportunities to intervene early when mental ill-health occurs.”

Orygen believes the Royal Commission’s interim report accurately identifies the:

  • efficacy of early intervention in minimising the impact of mental ill-health across the lifetime;
  • need for a new and sustainable approach to mental health funding via a levy or tax;
  • scale of the current system gaps and fragmentation - and the impact this has had on creating a ‘missing middle’ (individuals who are too unwell to be effectively treated in primary care settings, but not unwell enough to meet the ever-rising threshold for specialist and tertiary services); and
  • importance of designing and delivering services in genuine partnership with people who have a lived experience of mental ill-health.

Importantly, the interim report identifies the need to address the most urgent issues in the system - including shortages in crisis and acute care, as well as aftercare following a suicide attempt.

The Commission recommended the Victorian Government fund:

  • 170 new youth and adult acute beds to respond to urgent demand.
  • The Royal Children’s Hospital, Monash Children’s Hospital, Alfred Health and Orygen in partnership to create, deliver and evaluate the first phase of a new youth assertive outreach and follow-up care service (for children and young people who have attempted suicide, have suicidal ideation or have intentionally self-harmed) in their catchment areas.

Orygen’s head of suicide prevention, Associate Professor Jo Robinson, said it was known that young people frequently present to emergency departments with self-harm and suicidal ideation, yet are often discharged without adequate follow up care.

“We also know that the period immediately following discharge from services is one of greatest risk periods for suicide. With rates of youth suicide increasing there has never been a more important time to invest in high quality care for this group of vulnerable young people,” she said.

Professor McGorry said the interim report placed significant emphasis on the value of interdisciplinary translational research to the development of the new models of care, service design and delivery that would be required to achieve the Commission’s recommended redesign of the mental health system in Victoria.

“Without a system that prioritises research and its translation into service improvement and innovation we will only go backwards,” he said.

Orygen congratulates the Royal Commission on its interim report and welcomes any opportunity to continue to work with the Commission on designing the central elements of a new mental health system in Victoria for the final report, due in October 2020. The analysis and recommendations of the interim report provide us with great hope that this new system will be one that prioritises the provision of effective, high-quality and youth-focused models of care for young people, along with greater access and equity to mental health care for all Victorians experiencing mental ill-health now and into the future.

The Interim report can be accessed on the Royal Commission's website.

Read Orygen’s submission to the Royal Commission.