Mental health service directorate must be established as a priority

FOR YEARS now, health policymakers, service users, practitioners and society as a whole have been in favour of moving away from the practice of locking up people with mental illness in Victorian institutions, and developing better community-based services instead.

Yet we continue to accommodate many people with mental illnesses in those Victorian institutions we all want to see closed down. Why? Because wanting something to happen is not enough. We need to make it happen. We can have more reports calling for change, or we can have a dedicated team that delivers change.

Mental health services are important, different and badly-neglected. They need to be based in the community. Having them run from within the broad health services administrative structures means they do not get the focused attention needed for radical change to take place. Only a focused mental health service directorate can bring about the modernisation around which there is overwhelming consensus.