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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Personal story:


Yolanda’s* daughter Sonia* has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety and anorexia, and had self‑harmed since she was 13 years old. Sonia was receiving services from the child and youth mental health service in her catchment area. Yolanda reflects that this was a supportive service for Sonia’s recovery.

[Sonia] developed a strong therapeutic relationship with her therapist, and treatment ranged from mostly fortnightly to sometimes twice-weekly appointments when she was suicidal.

The service was walking distance from their home, which meant that Sonia could easily attend appointments—this was helpful when she needed more regular support.

When Sonia turned 18, she was told she was no longer eligible for services in the child and youth mental health service catchment that she lived in and instead had to move to the adult mental health service.

[Sonia] now [falls] into a [different] hospital catchment area and the adult mental health services are located … a 20 km drive away.

Yolanda still does not understand why Sonia could not stay with the child and youth mental health service that provides treatment for young people up to the age of 25. The rigid catchment areas made it more difficult for Sonia to get to appointments and also meant that she needed to establish relationships with new clinicians.

People with [borderline personality disorder] have significant trouble forming relationships at the best of times, and to force them to have to start therapy with a new therapist just because they turn 18 is detrimental to their mental health and set[s] them back in their treatment.

Yolanda reflects on her daughter’s experience and would like to see changes to the way catchments are coordinated to ensure consistency for consumers, families, carers and supporters across an individual’s life.

What I would like to see is a review of hospital catchment areas for mental health services so that it is the same for children and adults, and some logic used in deciding where the boundaries are—if you are in walking distance to a service you should be in that catchment area, not made to drive 20 km to access services in another catchment area.

Source: Anonymous 478, Submission to the RCVMHS SUB.0002.0024.0064, 2019.

Note: *Names have been changed to protect privacy.