People experiencing homelessness and poor mental health are among Australia’s most vulnerable citizens. Without secure housing and an accessible mental healthcare system, recovery from mental illness is seriously compromised.
And the upcoming Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System will be judged by how it responds to this crisis of mental health and housing.
In recent weeks, we conducted a census of data from the Melbourne-based community agency, Launch Housing, and found 44% of the 2,023 clients were experiencing mental illness. Only half of these clients were receiving support from a mental health service.
Our interviews with these clients show how the Victorian mental health system repeatedly fails this group. Without exception, these clients emphasised the significance of safe and long-term housing to mental health stability and recovery.
People often cycle through the mental healthcare system. This system includes primary health care services, and specialist community based and inpatient services in hospitals. Many then exit this system into homelessness, only to return repeatedly to hospital-based care, and sometimes the prison system.
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