A message from the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner

Wednesday 1 January 2020 12:43am

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an unprecedented and very challenging event for our world. Our thoughts and compassion are with all those finding this an extremely difficult time. We hope that you are finding the lessening of some social restrictions beneficial for your wellbeing.

At the MHCC, we are closely monitoring advice from health authorities to ensure the safety of our staff and those who use our service. To best manage the risks, we’ve closed our physical office, but we’re still here to help - via phone, email or online platforms. Our top priority remains safeguarding human rights, and working with consumers, families, carers and services to ensure quality mental health services for people managing mental health challenges. Your experience matters, so please speak up to us about your concerns!

One in five Australians is affected by mental health challenges in any given year, and thousands who live with severe and complex challenges access psychosocial support services to maintain their wellbeing. As we stay at home to physically protect the people in our community most vulnerable to coronavirus, we also need to keep supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Many community members are particularly vulnerable to declining mental and physical health during this pandemic, due to increased isolation, instability and stress. Support lines, and other Government services including Centrelink and the NDIS are seeing increased community demand. Mental health services are working hard to find flexible and proactive ways to safely support people accessing their services, while also supporting the efforts of the broader health system to prepare for the impacts of COVID-19. Amidst this, the MHCC’s role, under the Mental Health Act 2014 is to continue resolving concerns about Victorian public mental health services, recommending improvements and ensuring safeguards for consumers. We have been actively responding to issues raised in complaints about COVID-19 impacts and sharing these themes with the department and with other mental health commissioners, to inform mental health responses at both a state and national level. We were pleased to be able to contribute to the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Plan through our input to the National Mental Health Commission’s work on this plan.

Our hope is that we will all learn valuable lessons from this time that will help us build a stronger, more flexible and better mental health system than ever before. A clear vision and strategy for national mental health reform is needed now even more than ever, and what we do this year will help shape the future for us all. Luckily, we are on the way - the National Mental Health Commission has been working on Vision 2030 as a long-term blueprint for a successful, connected, and well-functioning mental health and suicide prevention system. The MHCC is also contributing to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health and the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and looks forward to what they will deliver.

Once again, connecting with and continuing our support for you is of the utmost importance, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. Below you can find some mental health and wellbeing resources we hope might assist you with the changes and new pressures of this time.

Take good care. We’re all in this together.

Dr Lynne Coulson Barr OAM, Commissioner &  Maggie Toko, Deputy Commissioner

Reviewed 28 June 2021

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