The Victorian government will establish an additional 120 mental health beds across greater Melbourne and Geelong as it responds to the state’s mental health royal commission.
The $492 million plan establishes new acute mental health facilities in Epping, Parkville and St Albans in greater Melbourne, as well as in Geelong.
The funding forms part of the government’s 2020/21 budget commitment to spend $868.8 million on mental health.
The facilities have been designed to create a “safe, welcoming and healing atmosphere” for patients, Acting Premier James Merlino said on Sunday.
All four facilities will be operational by 2023.
“These new beds will mean more people can get the care they need, when they need it most – and take pressure off our emergency departments,” Mr Merlino said in a statement.
“We’re implementing every recommendation of the royal commission to fix our broken mental health system and save lives.”
Mental health royal commission chair Penny Armytage found earlier this month that the state’s mental health system operates largely in crisis mode, failing the people it’s designed to help.
Ms Armytage said there was an over-reliance on the use of hospitals, crisis services and medication, with the latter relied on as the main and sometimes only source of treatment.
She delivered 65 recommendations to parliament including the creation of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, a new mental health authority and a “chief officer for mental health” role.
Premier Daniel Andrews at the time said the government’s funding response would be detailed in the state budget in May.
One in five Victorians experience mental illness each year and nearly half the state’s population will experience it during their lifetime. Almost 700 people in Victoria in 2020 died by suicide.
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