Meeting growing mental health needs

Thursday, 23 December, 2021

Meeting growing mental health needs

Melbourne mental health facility The Victoria Clinic is in the process of a $50 million upgrade that will vastly expand its service offering. The upgrade comes as the Healthscope-operated clinic celebrates 20 years of serving the local community, and also follows a substantial increase in demand for mental health services brought on by COVID-19.

The Victoria Clinic will expand its number of beds and add 20 new consulting suites, as well as 15 additional psychiatrists. Staffing levels will also increase from the current 120 employed at the clinic, with an additional 200 staff. The new-look clinic will also offer an expanded range of mental health services, including additional trauma-based services and an elderly care unit, as well as a rooftop gymnasium and outdoor garden area.

On completion, the clinic will go from its current single level to a six-storey structure, with a multi-level carpark for patients, staff, doctors and visitors. Patient admissions and treatment programs will continue as normal throughout the redevelopment.

The Victoria Clinic’s General Manager, Allison Carr, said that when planning the development, the clinic worked closely with staff, patients and treating clinicians to ensure their feedback was incorporated into the design process.

Carr said that the expansion will also provide opportunities for new psychiatrists to take up private practice in their local area, with new specialist consulting rooms, increased car parking, a new main reception and patient admission facilities among other important additions.

“The expansion is timely in allowing us to increase capacity at The Victoria Clinic to better meet the growing need for mental health treatment. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to scale our services to better support patients and their families, primary care providers and our healthcare partners,” Carr said.

“We will offer a wider breadth of inpatient treatments to the local community such as ECT services, SCHEMA therapy, EMDR therapy and TMS. The upgrades will also allow patients to access a modernised and purpose-built facility with 115 beds available once the changes are completed.”

Work on the site expansion began just over a year ago in September of 2020, and is due for completion in early 2023.

Carr added that COVID-19 has resulted in a substantial increase in demand for services. “The current climate has led to increased first presentations, in addition to presentations where the severity of underlying mental illness has been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

With one in five Australians aged 16–85 now experiencing a mental illness in any year, Carr said it had been crucial for The Victoria Clinic to continue evolving and expanding its services and staff to keep up with growing demand for local mental health services.

“Almost half (45%) of Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime (ABS, 2009). The most common mental illnesses are depression, anxiety and substance use disorder. These three types of mental illnesses often occur in combination. Mental health is a growing area of need in both our community and across Australia, and the demand for local services is outstripping our current capacity.”

Carr said that increased recognition of the need to support mental health services by the government has assisted patients seeking help in recent times.

“The government focus in this area has seen important changes to support people with mental health needs. Patients can now upgrade their private health insurance to cover mental health services with no waiting periods.”

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