Early intervention and more services in communities when and where people need them are key points being raised in early consultation for Victoria's Royal Commission into Mental Health.
Navigating a complex care system to access services also poses a challenge for many suffering from mental illness.
Mental Health Minister Martin Foley was in Bendigo on Tuesday to consult with central Victorian experts to shape the terms of reference for the royal commission.
“We’ve lost our way, this royal commission is an opportunity to set that straight,” Mr Foley said.
“What we have at the moment is really not something that you could quite legitimately say is a mental health system. It’s a series of services that under pressure is seeing more and more people fall into the cracks as those services don’t align properly.
“We know that’s particularly the case in the regions such as Bendigo where … the demand and the level of support people in the system need continues to increase.”
The event is one of 23 round tables taking place across Victoria.
Chief executive of Murray Primary Health Network Matt Jones was part of the consultation.
Mr Jones said regional Victorians needed an integrated system with a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention.
He wanted to see a health system structured to meet all the needs of a person.
Mr Jones said it was difficult for people dealing with mental illness to navigate the current “fragmented” system, making it hard to access services.
“Our starting point should be what are the needs of patients and how can we restructure the system and delivery to address those needs,” Mr Jones said.
“We need to look at the needs of a person, and have the health system provide for all of the needs ... not just their particular condition.”
Targeted, evidence based, approaches, a strong focus on suicide prevention and accessible services were all important to Mr Jones.
He said more staffing and funding were needed in a regional context, so that people needing help did not have to travel vast distances to access services.
Mr Foley also said the mental health system needed to be constructed with people at its centre.
“People are falling into gaps all over the place, no more so than in the regions,” Mr Foley said.
“This is an opportunity to redesign the system from the ground up that puts people with mental illness at its heart together with their carers, their families and their supporters.”
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