Brimbank battling mental ill-health


Gerald Lynch

A recent report by the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) has found Wyndham to be among the poorest ranked municipalities for mental health, with a number of factors at fault.

According to the report, Wyndham stands out as the local government area throughout Melbourne’s north and west with the greatest mental health needs given the size and growth rate of its population.

It also has a high level of need related to risk factors that research shows have negative effects on mental health and wellbeing.

These include low income, housing stress, food insecurity, developmental vulnerability and adult obesity.

With more than 40 per cent of residents born in non-English speaking countries and speaking a language other than English at home, the NWMPHN region is more culturally and linguistically diverse than the rest of Victoria.

English proficiency across the region varied, with notably lower levels in Brimbank, Hume, and Maribyrnong.

A relatively low liveability index in Wyndham indicated there is insufficient public transport access, health infrastructure or access to healthy food.

Despite a large population, Wyndham has a shortage of mental health services, especially those subsidised by Medicare and consequently a low rate of patients with active mental health treatment plans.

NWMPHN executive director of service development and reform Jagjit Dhaliwal said things need to be improved at all levels including societal and governmental to see an improvement in mental health struggles.

“First and foremost, it’s about ensuring everyone who is seeking mental health care, either for themselves or a loved one, gets the right type of support. This looks different for everyone,” he said.

“Some people might benefit from group counselling, others might prefer a one-on-one chat over the phone or online. Others need more complex support and might have other things going on in their lives, such as alcohol and drug use, or chronic pain.

“At NWMPHN we’re also looking at how we can make every single part of our health system more adaptable to each individual person’s need.

“Our health care workers do a great job once someone needs their support, but more can be done at the preventative end.”