More youth mental health support needed in Gippsland

In State Parliament this week, the Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath called on the Andrews Government to fund additional youth mental health support services for Gippsland in the coming state budget.

Ms Bath said she was concerned about the alarming surge in mental health emergencies for young people and a lack of critical support.

The call comes after Moe mother Andrea McLennan contacted Ms Bath to share her frustrations about the lack of mental health support available to young people in our region.

“Ms McLennan was left with a difficult choice when her son required urgent intervention and psychological care because Gippsland has only two youth mental health beds.

“The McLennan family was told no youth mental health bed was available in the Latrobe Valley, forcing them to decide between a youth bed in Melbourne or an adult bed locally.

“There’s a desperate need for additional mental health professionals, and access to youth inpatient services – young people deserve a bright future and a pathway to good mental health.”

Three years ago, the Royal Commission warned Victoria must urgently address critical workforce shortages, with more than half the recommendations detailing solutions for workforce pressures.  It found Victoria’s mental health system had failed and subsequently released a blueprint to recover and rebuild the state’s mental health system.

Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death amongst 15 to 24 years old Victorians in 2020.

Ms Bath said the Mental Health Royal Commission made a raft of recommendations to fix Victoria’s broken mental health system, which have largely gone unaddressed.

“Labor’s multiple hard lockdowns, curfews, restrictions on leaving home, school closures, cancellation of community sport, bans on personal care and socialising with friends have created a mental health pandemic.

“One of the tragic costs of the pandemic is a mental health crisis which has further stretched a system that was already beyond breaking point.

“The Mental Health Royal Commission told us Victoria’s mental health system was dysfunctional, overwhelmed and could not keep up with the number of people seeking treatment.

“It also said “There is a strong case for investment in and attention to the mental health and wellbeing of young people”.p.12.

“It’s appalling that young Gippslanders exhibiting signs of major distress or crisis cannot access the treatment, care and support they need locally.

“Labor has been in been government 19 out of the past 23 years – only a change in Government fix Victoria’s mental health crisis and build the mental health workforce

“Funding for the immediate delivery of youth mental health inpatient services and more mental health workers must be included in the May budget to support the critical care of young Gippslanders.”

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