The Hon. Martin Foley MP, Minister for Mental Health, has responsibility for the social justice portfolios of Housing, Disability and Ageing, Mental Health and Equality, as well as Creative Industries, in the Victorian Government.
His portfolios are linked by a generational opportunity to look beyond narrow responses to addressing disadvantage.
Last November you launched the 10-Year Mental Health Plan for Victoria (the Plan). What are the key actions in relation to young people’s mental wellbeing?
The Andrews Labor Government wants to help all Victorians experience their best mental health. This includes support for families and for children early in life to help them develop the necessary life skills to manage their own mental health. Young people will also benefit from our focus on reducing the suicide rate and diverting people with mental illness from the justice system. We have also begun planning for the new Orygen Youth Mental Health Care and Research Centre at Parkville, to which we will contribute $60 million as part of a commitment to world-leading practice and research. We have already increased support for the wellbeing of young people through expansion of the Safe Schools program and investing $5.9 million in programs that promote the mental health of LGBTI Victorians, as well as investing $4.4 million to support high-risk young people with an eating disorder.
What insight did you gain from consultation with people who have experienced mental health conditions, during development of the Plan?
Many people shared their concerns about services that are fragmented, siloed, difficult to navigate, hard to access, crisis-driven, facing increasing demand, under-resourced, stigmatised and stigmatising. We heard the frustration of trying to access services only to be turned away. We heard about families and carers feeling isolated and excluded. But we also heard many positive stories about what helped recovery, including support from peer workers, clinicians and other mental health workers. The Plan identifies mental illness prevention as an action area. Why is prevention important to the government? Who should be involved in the prevention effort? Many people responding to the consultation spoke about the benefits of investment in mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention across all age groups. Clearly, prevention is better than cure, both in terms of human hardship and medical costs. Early and appropriate intervention is a key goal for our mental health system.
What role do you think health promotion has in improving mental health in Victoria?
We want to see promotion of mental health for all ages and stages of life, helping people to build protective factors for good mental health and to seek support when they recognise risks. It is also crucial that we build respect for people living with mental illness and work towards including them more in society, reducing stigma and discrimination.