The first stage of a pioneering mental health service has launched with the start of in-patient and at-home support for women and those who identify as women in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley area.
Ramsay Health Care’s Shepparton Private Hospital is delivering a regional part of the service’s ‘hub and spoke’ model for the provision of female-focused psychiatric care.
The Specialist Women’s Mental Health Service – the first of its kind in Australia – is a hybrid of private and public hospital care in partnership with Alfred Health and Goulburn Valley Health.
Anne Mortimer, Director of Ramsay Mental Health, said the leading hospital group was proud to provide in-patient facilities and experienced teams to help Victorian women experiencing mental health issues.
“Ramsay Health Care is the largest private provider of mental health services in Australia and has established a reputation for providing reliable, high-quality mental health care to Australians,” she said.
“The in-patient service at Shepparton Private Hospital will offer Victorian women leading care in separate treatment spaces to ensure their comfort, safety and dignity.”
The service’s central hub will be based in Melbourne, where the Ramsay and Alfred Health teams aim to start psychiatric care for women in the metropolitan community in the second half of 2023.
“This service model has been co-designed by people with lived experience and recognises the significant need for a trauma-informed, holistic service for Victorian women,” said Dr Jenny Babb, Women’s Mental Health Service Director at Alfred Health.
“The partnership also allows for providing consultation and support to build capacity of local services to provide world-leading care.”
The state-wide service will support women and those who identify as women aged over 18 with mental health conditions, including presentation during the perinatal period and eating disorders.
It is driven by recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System, which heard that a range of gender-based safety issues significantly impacted women’s experiences of in-patient mental health care.
Dr Rajlaxmi Khopade, Consultant Psychiatrist at Goulburn Valley Health, said women were twice as likely to suffer from mental illness compared to men.
“In addition, we recognise that women face unique challenges including high rates of sexual and physical abuse, single parenthood and poverty, which along with other social and economic inequities, act as barriers to accessing mental healthcare,” Dr Khopade said.
“Working as a mental health practitioner in the Goulburn Valley region for over a decade, I have witnessed these issues first-hand among the women I treat.”
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