Roads to Recovery – Building a Better System for People Experiencing Mental Health Issues in Victoria
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to look at the system response to people with mental health issues that is not currently working to support people’s personal recovery and is at times harmful. In the words of our Senior Consumer Consultant, Wanda Bennetts:
'Now is the time for a total rethink and genuine culture shift. We need more services, better services and importantly, we also need alternative services. Let those of us most impacted by the system lead the way in designing a new system that works for us. We want services that are amazing – that you would consider good enough for yourself or your families and friends.'
Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) submission to the royal commission is titled Roads to Recovery: Building a Better System for People Experiencing Mental Health Issues in Victoria. The submission contains the stories of several consumers whose experiences paint a picture of diverse lives, strengths and challenges.
People’s lived experience at the centre
Recognition of the importance of consumer co-production and leadership should be the foundation of the royal commission and the system it helps redesign. Too often, the lived experience of consumers is that the mental health system – and the systems that intersect with it – have failed to understand and meet their needs. The negative impact of these system failures on people’s lives reminds us all that widescale, systemic change is essential and urgent.
Over three years IMHA provided 20,052 advocacy and coaching services to consumers. Last year, Victoria Legal Aid worked with almost 24,000 people who identified as experiencing a mental health issue or disability. We see in our work every day the links between people’s mental health and other social, economic and legal issues. A lack of access to housing, disability services, employment, income support and mental health services can collide with experiences of isolation, family violence and discrimination, threatening people’s mental health and undermining their recovery.
Today, Thursday 11 July Victoria Legal Aid's CEO, Louise Glanville, will appear before the royal commission to provide evidence in person. Louise will draw on our submission to the royal commission and will encourage framing the review of the mental health system within a social model of health, rather than a purely medical model.
‘We need a system-wide review with the person at the centre that encourages consideration of the different social, economic and legal factors that affect a person’s wellbeing. A social model of health will also shift from a deficit model focused on symptoms to a focus on people’s strengths,’ said Louise.
Areas of focus
Our submission identifies six priorities for reform to help build a system that supports people's choices and their recovery in ways that enable them to live the best lives they can, as determined by them:
- building a mental health system that is focused on recovery
- embedding consumer leadership and advocacy as part of a rights-focused system
- reducing the harm of criminal justice involvement for people experiencing mental health issues
- improving the responses of other systems and services to mental health
- reducing inequalities and developing tailored, culturally safe services
- strengthening governance, accountability, data and transparency.
We look forward to working with consumers and the royal commission, to help build a system that meets the needs of the community.
Read the submission
Reviewed 22 July 2021