Improving responses of other systems to mental health

Improving responses of other systems to mental health

Monday, 2 September 2019

This is the fifth in a series of short articles drawing on our six key areas of focus from our submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System presents an opportunity to improve the way a range of other services and systems can have an impact on someone’s mental health.

Through our work, Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) sees the intersection between people’s mental health and other life and legal issues.

‘We see the way a lack of access to housing, disability services, employment or income support can cause damage to someone’s mental health, and undermine their recovery,’ said VLA’s Executive Director of Civil Justice, Access and Equity, Rowan McRae.

‘Someone experiencing isolation, family violence or discrimination may face challenges to their mental health and recovery.’

‘We also see the way in which other systems, including the child protection system, can fail to focus on and support someone’s strengths, or to understand and respond appropriately to the way mental health, family violence and other trauma can be related,’ said Nicole Rich, Executive Director for Family Youth and Children’s Law.

Our submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System makes a range of suggestions to ensure people are placed at the centre of the systems which affect them, including:

  • adopting a social model of health to analyse the social, economic and legal factors that affect a person’s wellbeing
  • recognising that people have overlapping family, health, housing, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), justice and social issues and need access to coordinated, integrated services in the community before they reach crisis point
  • ensuring that people experiencing mental health issues are treated fairly in other systems and services and that the impacts of family violence or other trauma are properly recognised and responded to.

‘People experiencing mental health issues can face systems and services which make assumptions about their capacity and capabilities, for example to care for their children, and limit their opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their lives,’ said Nicole.

‘This Royal Commission presents a significant opportunity to listen and learn from people experiencing mental health issues about the way a range of social, economic and health systems can support their recovery,’ said Rowan.

More information

Read more about our submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

Read more at the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System website.

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