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Professor Patrick McGorry AO on Victoria's mental breakdown

  • Date recorded: 29 Nov 2017

  • Duration: 51:19

'It's a form of self-harm for the country not to [intervene early]. It doesn't have to be at the expense of cancer or heart disese, we just have to catch up and do the same things they do: prevention, early intervention, sustained treatment and properly looking after people who have more long-term conditions.'

– Professor Patrick McGorry, AO

About this video

In the 2017 Redmond Barry Lecture, Professor Patrick McGorry AO discusses the breakdown of Victoria's mental health system – once the 'jewel in the crown' of the national system – and what is required to fix it.

Patrick credits Australians for 'having the conversation' about mental health but with community treatment systems shrinking and population growing, there has been a 42 per cent rise in the last six years in Victorian hospital emergency department presentations. 

He warns that the integration of mental health within mainstream health system since the 1990s is taking Australia in the direction of the USA, where prisons and hospitals are filled with people with untreated mental health issues.

Patrick discusses the 'missing middle' in the mental health system, where there is a high level of pressure on general practice and with emergency departments and police 'at the bottom of the cliff', but inadequate specialist, multidiscplinary care in the middle. The cost of failing to effectively treat more complex patients is borne in welfare costs, prison costs and the loss of social capital across a person's lifespan.

Patrick proposes three pillars for investment and reform of the mental health system in Victoria:

- invest $2b per year in community-based mental health over the next five years to help people with serious mental illness who need expert care

- strengthen the mental health system for young people aged 12-25 

- fund mental health research.

Patrick expresses gratitude to the Victorian Government for funding Orygen's research/clinical facility in Parkville.

He says there is a need for more corporate and philanthropic funding, and for grassroots activism for mental health reform. With others he has formed the not-for-profit Australians for Mental Health to campaign on the issue of mental health.

About the Redmond Barry Lecture

This free Redmond Barry Lecture was held at the Library on 29 November 2017.

An annual lecture, it honours the work of Sir Redmond Barry – founder of the State Library and a key figure in the development of Australia’s cultural and intellectual life.


Professor Patrick McGorry AO is a world-leading researcher in early psychosis and youth mental health. He’s the Executive Director of Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health; Professor of Youth Mental Health at The University of Melbourne, and a Director of the Board of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation (headspace). His work has played a critical role in the development of safe, effective treatments and innovative research into the needs of young people with emerging mental disorders, notably psychotic and severe mood disorders. He has also played a major part in the transformational reform of mental health services to better serve the needs of vulnerable young people.