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Experts and people with mental illness in Victoria say the system has failed

Photo: Vic mental health inquiry looks at access
Victoria's mental health royal commission is shining a spotlight on how people find help and navigate a system that's widely acknowledged to have failed.

How do mentally ill Victorians find help in broken system?

That's the question the state's royal commission into mental health will look to answer when it public hearings resume in Melbourne on Monday.

Experts and people with mental illness say the system has failed.

Leading psychiatrist and former Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry says about 300,000 Victorians are too unwell for a GP to handle, and are left with little option but to wait until they end up in an emergency ward.
About half of all young people will experience mental illness before the age of 30 but there is often no support available once they get too old for youth services.

"It's lethal," Prof McGorry told the commission of the current system last week.

"People have died because of this."

Amelia Morris, 21, nearly became a statistic as she struggled with anxiety, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder while living in regional Victoria.

She had gone to youth mental health support service Headspace but needed more intensive help and found there was nothing else out there.

"I just wasn't getting any better ... and then one day I came home from school and attempted suicide," Ms Morris told the royal commission.

"I ended up calling the ambulance myself because I saw my dog and thought 'What are you going to do without me?'."

Ms Morris is demanding better mental health care so others don't have to go through what she did.

"My mum's a diabetic and they wouldn't make her wait until her foot was gangrenous before they did something," the young woman said.

"I've really had to fight very hard to get the help I've just needed to survive."

The royal commission will spend four days looking at how people access and navigate the mental health system before turning its attention to the experiences of carers and families.

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