The first milestone in the establishment of a unique Victorian women’s mental health service has been reached with the opening of in-patient and at-home support for women and those who identify as women in the Goulburn Valley area.
Alfred Health, Goulburn Valley Health and Ramsay Health Care have partnered to deliver the first of its kind Specialist Women’s Mental Health Service; an expert hybrid of private and public hospital care.
The service will use a ‘hub and spoke’ model for specialist mental health service provision, with the central hub based in Melbourne, and the Goulburn Valley in-home and in-patient care delivered at Ramsay’s Shepparton Private Hospital, the first of the spokes.
Director Women’s Mental Health Service, Dr Jenny Babb from Alfred Health, said the service has
been developed to fill a gap in female-focused psychiatric care.
“What we know is that women need to feel safe when receiving mental health care services, and that they need care that is specifically tailored to them,” Dr Babb said.
“This service model has been co-designed by people with lived experienced and recognises the significant need for a trauma-informed, holistic service for Victorian women.
“The partnership also allows for providing consultation and support to build capacity of local services to provide world-leading care.”
Dr Rajlaxmi Khopade, Consultant Psychiatrist at GV Health said women are approximately twice as likely to suffer from mental illness when compared to men, which is why specialised care is required.
“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. I am immensely proud to be part of the launch of a new service that will better support women in our community on their journey to recovery.”
Director of Ramsay Mental Health, Anne Mortimer, said Ramsay is proud to provide private inpatient 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. The inpatient service at Shepparton Private Hospital will offer Victorian women leading care in separate treatment spaces to ensure their comfort, safety and dignity.”
In the coming months, the Alfred Health and Ramsay Health Care teams will commence delivery of psychiatric care to women in the metropolitan Melbourne community, with the service’s hub to
open in the second half of 2023.
The development of the new service 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.
The statewide 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.