Brimbank struggles with mental health issues | Brimbank & Noordwest

Brimbank struggles with mental health issues | Brimbank & Noordwest

Gerald Lynch

A recent report from the North Western Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) found that Brimbank was among the worst performing councils for mental health care. A number of factors played a role in this.

According to the report, Brimbank is the LGA in Melbourne’s north and west with the highest levels of social deprivation.

There is also a high level of need for risk factors that research shows have a negative impact on mental health and well-being.

Examples include low income, food insecurity, limited English proficiency, vulnerability to developmental problems, domestic violence, and high adult obesity rates.

More than 40 percent of residents were born in countries where English is not spoken and speak a language other than English at home. The NWMPHN region is more culturally and linguistically diverse than the rest of Victoria.

English language proficiency varied across the region, with notably lower levels in Brimbank, Hume and Maribyrnong.

A relatively low liveability index in Brimbank indicates that there is insufficient access to public transport, health infrastructure or access to healthy food.

These factors can impact the mental health and well-being of residents.

A large proportion of Brimbank residents report high to very high psychological complaints.

The barriers to access to care are further increased by the shortage of psychologists in this LGA.

Brimbank is ranked third in the LGA rankings for the percentage of the population with two or more chronic health conditions, although this is lower than the state average.

Jagjit Dhaliwal, Director of Service Development and Reform at NWMPHN, said improvements are needed at all levels, including civil society and government, to see an improvement in mental health challenges.

“First and foremost, it’s about making sure that everyone who seeks mental health care, whether for themselves or a loved one, gets the right support. This looks different for everyone,” he said.

“Some people benefit from group therapy, others prefer one-on-one conversations over the phone or online. Others need more complex support and may have other things in their lives, such as alcohol and drug use or chronic pain.

“At NWMPHN, we also explore how we can better tailor each part of our healthcare system to the needs of each individual person.

“Our healthcare providers do a great job when someone needs their support, but more can be done in terms of prevention.”