South-west residents have voiced their concerns over the region's "broken" mental health system after a man desperate for help was turned away from an acute inpatient unit.
On Monday The Standard reported a man suffering from alcohol dependency and schizophrenia, who was refused entry into the South West Healthcare mental health unit, begged to be locked up so he would stop drinking. The hospital declined to comment.
Readers took to The Standard's Facebook page this week to express their concerns over the system that ignored the man's cry for help.
Marina Graham said: "This is a really sad situation. It's hard enough dealing with the problem on your own but to ask for help for said problem takes a lot of guts. I hope the system changes to help those who need the help it's a community issue that requires community resources."
Brave readers also told their own stories, making it clear that last week's incident was not an isolated one.
One person said their "very seriously unwell daughter" was refused entry to a mental health acute patient unit because there were no intakes on weekends.
Another said a close friend who overdosed on prescription medications was released after 48 hours despite still having suicidal thoughts.
"The whole mental health system is broken," they said.
A woman turned away by Warrnambool Base Hospital said the mental health system was a joke.
"And the support services that do exist are hopeless, they have no clue what to do beyond intake," she said.
"They get all your info and make you tell them about everything and then three weeks later apparently you're all good because you engaged with them.
"Everyone puts people down not asking for help but when you do, you get turned away. Or treated like a number and an inconvenience."
The woman said she was admitted to the hospital but later discharged with no follow up, despite being told she could stay another two weeks.
In 2006, a 200-bed mental illness institution in Warrnambool was demolished.
Specialist mental health services are now provided by South West Healthcare which has 15 adult and five aged acute inpatient beds, and 10 prevention and recovery beds.
Victoria's Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley said the current system was not coping and funding alone would not fix things.
"That's why we've established the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System, and will accept each and every one of its recommendations," he said.
"The Royal Commission will prompt the most significant reform of our mental health system Victoria has ever seen."
Mr Foley said one in five Victorians experienced a mental illness.
"Drug and alcohol dependency can have a devastating impact on families and on regional communities - and it can happen to anyone," he said.
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