There are a lot of different mental health treatment and support services available for people with mental health concerns. These include psychology, counselling, telephone support lines, support groups, public mental health services, and private hospital services.
The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act (2022) came into effect in Victoria on 1st September 2023.
All mental health and wellbeing services are governed by the Act. This means if you or your family member is receiving treatment and support at any Mental Health and Wellbeing service in Victoria, the guidelines in the Act will apply to their care. This includes:
All public mental health hospitals (Area Mental Health and Wellbeing services)
Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals services
Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect services (Family and Carer-led Centre) service.
If you think a family member is having thoughts about suicide, it is important to reach out to them and talk about it. If you are worried they are going to hurt themselves, call 000 or your local mental health triage service immediately, or take the person to your local emergency department. If it is safe to do so, try to stay with the person and support them.
Most mental health services can provide support to people who are having thoughts of suicide. There are also specialist services to help someone who is having thoughts of suicide, or who has had a recent suicide attempt. These include:
Lifeline have a 24 hour telephone support line for people experiencing thoughts of suicide or mental health concerns. You can call them on 13 11 14 or visit their website here.
The Suicide Call Back Service is a 24 hour service across Australia that provides free phone and online counselling for people affected by suicide. You can call them on 1300 659 467 or visit their website here.
Wellways delivers the Way Back Support Service in parts of Western Victoria for people who have attempted suicide. The Way Back Support Service was developed by Beyond Blue and provides a support coordinator to people who have been admitted to hospital after a suicide attempt. Click here to visit the website for more information.
The HOPE (Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement) program is offered through most public hospitals to people who been admitted to hospital or the emergency department after a suicide attempt. Click here for information about the HOPE program at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, or visit your local hospital’s website for more information.
Beyond Blue has an app and online safety planning tool called Beyond Now. Find out more about how to use the Beyond Now Safety Plan on their website here.
If you or a family member need urgent mental health support, or require specialist treatment for serious mental illness, contact your local mental health triage service for advice and referrals. The triage service can advise you about how to support your family member, and if necessary, send out a mental health worker from the Crisis Assessment and Treatment (CAT) team to see your family member. You can also take your family member to your local emergency department and request an urgent mental health assessment.
The psychiatric triage service, CAT team or doctors in the emergency department can also refer someone to a mental health inpatient unit in their local hospital if they need more intensive support through an inpatient admission.
How do I contact my local mental health triage service?
To find your local mental health triage service, visit the Victorian Department of Health website here. There are mental health triage services for older adults, adults, and children and young people in every region in Victoria.
Where can I find more information?
For more information about the role of a CAT team, click here to read information on the Suicide Call Back Service website.
For more information about Victoria’s public mental health services (Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services), visit the Department of Health website here.
For non-urgent, community-based mental health services, you can contact your local community health service. Community health services offer a range of low cost and no cost mental health services which are funded by the State and Federal Governments, such as counsellors, psychologists, mental health nurses and support groups. Most services are available at low cost or no cost, and prioritise people who cannot afford to pay for private services.
Community health services are local hubs that have a range of different health and community services in the one location. This includes services like nurses and doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, dieticians, alcohol and other drug services, community groups, diabetes nurses and many more.
How do I find my local community health service?
For a list of community health services in Victoria, visit the Victorian Community Health Directory here.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals (‘Locals’) are new services being opened across Victoria from 2022. The Locals are available to all Victorians aged 26 years and over who need treatment, care and support with their mental health and wellbeing.
The Locals are funded by the Victorian Government and available at no cost. You do not need a referral to access the Locals.
As of August 2023, there are six Locals open in Victoria:
Frankston Local (Wellways)
Brimbank Local (cohealth)
Whittlesea Local (Neami)
Geelong Local (Barwon Health)
Latrobe Local (Neami)
Benalla/Wangaratta/Mansfield Local (Wellways)
You can find out more information about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals, or find your closest Locals service, by calling 1300 375 330 or by visiting the website here.
Lifeline has a 24 hour telephone support line for people experiencing thoughts of suicide or mental health concerns. You can call them on 13 11 14 or visit their website here.
Eating Disorders Victoria provides information for people and families affected by eating disorders, including information about how to find specialist eating disorder services. You can call their support line on 1300 550 236. They also run support groups and provide information for families on their website here.
Rainbow Door connects people from the LGBTIQ+ community with mental health, alcohol and other drug, family violence and other health services that they need. You can call them between on 1800 729 367 (10am – 5pm) or visit their website here.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can provide support for people aged under 65 years who have a psychosocial disability related to a diagnosed mental illness (such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder). It can also provide ‘early intervention’ for children with developmental conditions (such as autism spectrum disorder).
To access services through the NDIS, you need to register as an NDIS Participant and apply for an NDIS Plan. For more information about finding mental health services as an NDIS participant, visit the NDIS website here.
If your family member needs help accessing the NDIS for a mental illness (psychosocial disability), you can contact the NDIS Mental Health Access Project to help navigate the NDIS.
In the Eastern and North Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, contact EACH on 1300 00 3224 or visit their website here
In the Southern and Western suburbs of Melbourne, contact Neami on 1300 379 462 or visit their website here
In regional Victoria, contact ACSO on 1300 022 060 or visit their website here
A number of private hospitals in Victoria provide mental health services, including inpatient, outpatient and day programs.
To access mental health services through a prviate hospital, you will need to have private health insurance and there may be a ‘gap fee’ or ‘excess fee’ to pay. Private hospitals are not covered under the Mental Health and Wellbeing Act (2022), which means they can not provide involuntary treatment. This means that the patient needs to agree to being admitted at or treated at the hospital (a voluntary admission). Involuntary treatment can only happen in a public hospital.
Some of the private hosptials where you can access mental health treatment in Victoria include:
A psychologist is a registered mental health professional who can provide assessment and treatment for a range of mental health concerns. You can see a registered psychologist for therapy sessions in a private practice. Most psychologists will charge a fee for these sessions, but you may be able to get a rebate (money back) for psychology sessions under Medicare or your private health insurance.
To find a psychologist near you, visit the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Find A Psychologist website here or speak to your GP. For more information about what to expect when seeing a psychologist, visit the Australian Psychological Society (APS) website here.