“We know people have died on the waitlists”: delays worsening for youth mental health

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New data revealed today shows thousands of vulnerable youths at crisis point are now waiting more than 60 days for mental health appointments.

The strain of demand has led five psychiatrists to quit the sector in recent months.

Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy said there were immediate solutions that should be implemented to take the pressure off the workforce.

“Any parent whose child needs to see a mental health worker knows it’s urgent and their child’s life depends on it,” Ms Kealy said.

“Vulnerable kids at crisis point have become a number on a waitlist because the Labor Government is actively stopping reforms that could save lives.

“More than half of the royal Commission’s interim recommendations, delivered three years ago, focussed on immediately building the workforce, but the horror mental health waitlists show Labor has failed to listen and act.

“Labor has been in government 19 of the past 21 years. We’re now seeing the devastating result.

“Victorians deserve a positive plan to recover and rebuild that drives down mental health waitlists so all Victorians can get the help they need, when they need it.”

Leading Australian mental health expert Professor Patrick McGorry delivered the harrowing assessment that “we know people have died on the waiting lists”.

The Liberals and Nationals’ positive plan to fix mental health includes immediate changes to legislation and funding eligibility criteria that will unlock an extra 4000 workers for the workforce.

Our commitment to no more lockdowns will give Victorian certainty to restore and retain good mental health.

If elected to government, the Liberals and Nationals will rebuild the workforce by working with the sector to launch Australia’s largest ever support worker recruitment drive.

Background

The new data today also shows:

  • There are 562 young people in Melbourne’s north-west waiting for psychiatrist and allied health appointments at headspace, alone. There are “even more dire” delays for young mental health appointments in regional Victoria,
  • Demand for youth mental health has increased up to 30 per cent in recent months,
  • By the start of 2021, 12 to 25-year-olds at Victorian headspace centres were waiting 40 days for urgent psychological interventions. Before the pandemic, this wait was “negligible”. In recent months, this waitlist has skyrocketed to more than 60 days, and;
  • There are 139 people on the waitlist for crisis care at specialist youth mental health facility, Orygen.

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