The government of Australia’s Victoria state announced on Sunday that it will establish new facilities to tackle the mental health problem facing surging demand partly due to Covid-19.
The government said it will establish an additional 120 mental health beds across four new acute mental health facilities to support more people when they need it most, reports Xinhua news agency.
The plan with an investment of A$492 million ($375 million) is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2021 and all facilities are expected to 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,” said the state’s Acting Premier and Minister for Mental Health James Merlino.
The government estimated the beds, once operational, will deliver 43,000 extra days of hospital-based care – meaning an estimated 2,500 more people will be able to get the help they need.
This plan came after a Royal Commission report on the state’s mental health system, which found the system was “crisis-driven” and put forward several suggestions to the redesign of the system.
The commission, established in February 2019 and released the final report earlier this month, found the system was overwhelmed and could not keep up with the number of people who seek treatment, care and support, while community-based services were undersupplied.
According to the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, suicide was the 13th leading cause of death in 2019.
The rate of suicide for males increased over the past 10 years from 17.5 in 2010 to 19.8 in 2019, while the rate of suicide for females increased from 5.0 to 6.3.
A modelling published by the University of Sydney in the last year projected a 30 per cent rise in the suicide rate for Australians aged 18-24 over the next five years.
In Victoria, the state hardest-hit by the pandemic, it was projected to rise 36.7 per cent.