MENTAL HEALTH REPORT WELCOMED

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MENTAL HEALTH REPORT WELCOMED

March 3, 2021

The Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria welcomes today’s release of the final report of the Royal Commission in Victoria’s mental health system.

Phillip Wohlers, OCAV CEO, said that the report offered a bold and ambitious vision with a focus on removing the barriers Victorians face trying to get help.

OCAV is especially pleased to see that older people’s needs are singled out in Recommendation 22, that appropriate housing is highlighted as an important element in assisting people with lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress.

During the next three decades, the number of Victorians aged 65 years and over is estimated to double, rising from 1.05 million (as of 30 June 2020) to 2.13 million by 30 June 2051.

“In our submission we highlighted the existing service gap for older Victorians and warned that increasing demand and inadequate investment in services for older adults meant that those seeking support are often turned away,” Mr Wohlers.

The recommendation focusing on older Victorians includes three prongs: establishing a responsible and integrated service stream that focuses on improving their mental health and wellbeing outcomes; ensuring older Victorians have access to the same mental health treatment, care and support as the rest of the adult population; and to provide specialist mental health treatment, care and support for people with complex and compounding mental health needs generally related to ageing.

OCAV welcomed the acknowledgement in the final report that mental illness can be worsened by housing instability.

The report highlights that: “The changeable nature of mental illness can increase the likelihood of people experiencing housing instability. Many people living with mental illness also live in substandard accommodation.”

“We support the Commission’s recommendations to set out strong foundations for longer-term housing reform and build on recent investments, but resolution of Victoria’s housing crisis will require a continuing government-wide response that extends beyond the remit of this inquiry,” Mr Wohlers said.

 

OCAV also welcomes the focus on the promotion of good mental health and wellbeing, saying that its budget submission for 2020 called for further funding to support health promotion and activities for older people.

In its submission to the Royal Commission into Mental Health, OCAV prioritised the need for reforms to assist prevention and early intervention, social isolation, improving accessibility to the mental health system, and preventing suicide.

“The current system is skewed to treatment rather than prevention, there is limited funding for mental health support for people aged 55 and over – which has long-term consequences for how we care for older people with mental illness,” the OCAV submission stated.

“Our home has always been a place where family and friends are welcome.  Our cottage at Rushall Park is no different and the community of friends here is important to us and that’s why their work is part of my art box,” Jennifer Barden said.

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