Secret report reveals Govt imposed lockdown despite expert’s “major concern” for mental health

Victorian authorities continue to hold “major concern” with a substantial increase in demand for mental health services from children and teenagers, a confidential report has revealed.

The secret report, authored by the Victorian Agency for Health Information (VAHI) and obtained by the Liberals and Nationals under Freedom of Information, provides a harrowing assessment of the pandemic’s impact on the wellbeing of young Victorians.

Presentations for intentional self-harm and suicide ideation rose 93 per cent in Victoria in the six weeks to 16 May 2021, compared to the same time in 2020. By comparison, presentations rose 68 per cent in NSW.

Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy said the Andrews Government had gone to great lengths to stop Victorians getting the full picture of the mental trauma caused by Labor’s lockdowns.

“Young people are suffering in silence because the Andrews Labor Government chooses to keep this data secret,” Ms Kealy said.

“Without the full picture, we can’t implement a proper response with adequate resourcing and services to meet demand.

“Socially isolating young people from their friends and extended family dealt a heartbreaking blow, with growing evidence of increasing self-harm, eating disorders and presentations to hospital emergency departments for mental health related issues.

“Mental health experts sent clear warnings to the Andrews Government that its COVID response was harming Victorians, even briefing the Minister that people had taken their own lives – yet the Government still went ahead with further lockdowns.

“We had to fight tooth and nail to get the Government to release this data.

“What is Daniel Andrews trying to hide? Why won’t he agree to let Victorians see the public health advice that put us in lockdown for months on end?

“Supporting people’s good mental health will be crucial in the next few months as Victoria recovers and rebuilds.

“I’m urging the Government to support the Liberals and Nationals plan for immediate reform, including common sense legislative and funding changes that would unlock an extra 4000 practitioners for the mental health workforce.”

The secret VAHI report flagged “substantially” higher demand for mental health services among young people, with emergency department presentations named as a specific concern in Victoria where “since June/July 2020, the rate of increase has escalated”.

Emma Kealy MP

Shadow Minister for Mental Health