It said the $59.7 million in new funding will strengthen the surge capacity of clinical and community mental health services across the state to cope with additional presentations and reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments.
In addition, the Victorian government said the funding will also fast-track delivery of more new public acute mental health beds recommended by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, boost community mental health services and accelerate the state-wide roll-out of Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program.
The extra funding builds on the almost $135 million the Victorian government has already invested in mental health during the pandemic, including $26 million in mental health support aimed at business owners.
Victorian minister for mental health Martin Foley said the package will provide further support for people from all walks of life experiencing anxiety and distress during this period of uncertainty and isolation.
“This massive funding boost will fast-track this work to ensure we have the infrastructure and support systems in place as demand on our mental health system increases,” Mr Foley said.
Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive Nieves Murray welcomed the decision by the Victorian government as a timely one.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the community in varying ways, and for many people, this has been detrimental to their wellbeing. In recent weeks, the circumstances in Victoria have been particularly challenging,” Ms Murray said.
“We know that providing people with connected, consistent and ongoing support after a suicide attempt — or ‘aftercare’ — can reduce additional suicide attempts by up to 20 per cent. Effective aftercare is an evidence-based strategy for reducing suicide overall.
“That is why the $4 million expansion of Victoria’s HOPE post-crisis aftercare service will make a significant difference in the lives of vulnerable Victorians.”