Executive Director of youth mental health organisation Orygen, Professor Patrick McGorry AO, addressed students, academics and members of the public at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus.
Professor McGorry presented Victoria’s Mental Break Down, Recovery and Design as part of the Violet Marshman Oration, a lecture series established in 2018.
Although quality of life in Australia is above the OECD average in terms of health, wealth and education, almost half of Australians will experience a mental health condition at some time in their life.
Professor McGorry said mental ill-health rivals, and even exceeds, the other major threats to human health as a preventable cause of death and disability.
“It saps the energy and creativity and blights the lives of over four million Australians and results in 3000 deaths from suicide every year.
“Yet timely access to quality mental health is the exception rather than the rule. Why are Australians accepting this gross national neglect?” Professor McGorry asked.
Professor McGorry said Australia is at a crossroads in mental health care.
“Victoria is holding a Royal Commission into the collapse of the public mental health system in our State. The Federal government has established a Productivity Commission Inquiry into the serious under-resourcing of mental health care and its impact on the economy and society.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to transform the landscape of health care and end the inequity and prejudice against mentally ill people and their families.
“There are solutions and they are achievable,” Professor McGorry said.
Professor McGorry is the Executive Director of Orygen, Professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, and a Founding Director of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation (headspace).
He is a world-leading researcher in the area of early psychosis and youth mental health.
The Violet Marshman Oration honours the late western Victorian nurse, Violet Vines Marshman, and her contribution to the health and wellbeing of people in rural and regional Australia.