cohealth response to royal commission into mental health final report

Released on 2nd March 2021

Not for profit community health organisation cohealth says that the delivery of the final Report from the Mental Health Royal Commission is an emotional day for those who have been failed by the system, as well as the people who support them.

“We acknowledge those that have contributed to the process through submissions and appearances, especially those who have courageously shared their own lived experience of mental ill-health,” said Nicole Bartholomeusz, CE, cohealth.

“The Royal Commission process revealed what we have long known – our mental health system is full of gaping chasms stitched together by underfunded services, and is over-orientated towards acute care,” she said.

“We now have a duty to respond.  We must provide the full range of supports, including wellbeing (or psychosocial) services, that keep people well rather than only engaging with them once they’ve reached a crisis point,” she said.

Ms Bartholomeusz applauded the Commission’s vision of a mental health and wellbeing system strongly reoriented towards community-based treatment, care and support as an alternative to hospital or crisis-based care.

Ms Bartholomeusz said that we need greater investment to integrate mental health, physical health and social supports, which sees multidisciplinary physical health care and social support services located together in decentralised settings, along the lines of the community health approach.

“During the pandemic we have seen just how important it is to have mental health services integrated with other health and social supports.  No matter what the client needs, the wrap around support is provided by a multidisciplinary team of workers,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

“People often don’t recognise that they need help or know where to find it. A one-stop-shop service, such as that which community health provides, is an ideal model for early intervention and prevention.

“Someone might be coming to see a podiatrist, who picks up that that they are showing signs of depression and can refer them to someone in the same care team. That’s what integration looks like,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

cohealth also welcomes the recognition of the needs of our multicultural and diverse communities.,

“These are people who experience significant stigma and discrimination every day of their life, have  poorer mental health and don’t have access to the culturally safe services they require. ”

“We know that community health organisations like cohealth can play a larger role in delivering mental health education and stigma reduction programs to the communities we already care for and have a relationship with,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

cohealth also took the opportunity to point to many of the intersecting policy issues that influence and affect people’s mental health.

“Mental health doesn’t exist in a bubble. cohealth supports thousands of people every year whose poor mental health is inextricably linked with a history of trauma, lack of housing, alcohol and drug use, unmanaged chronic illnesses, poverty and low income, disability and social isolation.  Supporting good mental health is an all-of-government responsibility, not just that of health departments,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

“Community health is ideally positioned to deliver many of the recommendations contained in the Royal Commission’s report, and cohealth looks forward to working with Government and the  health sector to promote good mental health and to provide the support, care and treatment, that people need.”

— Ends — 

More information: Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  

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