Forcing adolescents with acute mental health issues to seek treatment in Melbourne is "not good enough", according to former south-west MP John McGrath.
South West Healthcare raised the issue in its submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health system.
"The closest adolescent beds to the South West Healthcare catchment are located at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, which can be up to 500 kilometres away from where consumers live (requiring up to four ambulance transfers/handovers)," the submission states.
This can have a detrimental impact on the recovery of young people and places significant distress and financial burden on their families, it reveals.
"Some families will choose not to pursue services and will attempt to cope with the young person at home, rather than endure the stress of travelling to Melbourne," the submission states.
Mr McGrath, who has advocated for improvements to the mental health system for years as a founding board director of beyond blue and during his political career, said he believed making beds available in the south-west for adolescents should be a priority for the state government.
"We need to do better, for goodness sake," he said.
"It's not satisfactory - it's really not. Their recovery has got to be within the confines of their own community, surrounded by people who love them."
The submission also reveals that people experiencing mental illness are often admitted to general wards for overnight stays.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said adolescents dealing with a mental health issue could access treatment through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
"CAMHS is a specialist clinical assessment and treatment service for infants, children and youth up to 18 years of age," she said.
"It is made up of a team of professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, social Workers, occupational therapists and nurses and has offices in Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton, and Camperdown.
"Young people can also access headspace services located in Warrnambool and Portland."
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.