Mental health support for young Victorians is set to be doubled in the state with a focus on people in regional Victoria, Premier Dan Andrews and Minister for Mental Health James Merlino have announced.

The state’s mental health network, Youth Prevention and Recovery Care (YPARC), is expected to have its capacities doubled, with five new centres to be built across Victoria. It’s expected this big boost will give the network the ability to support nearly 1000 more young Aussies in crisis – something that’s likely very much needed after the last couple of pandemic-affected years.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Dan Andrews said an investment of $141 million from the 2021/2022 Victorian budget will be used to build the new sites in Ballarat, Geelong, Shepparton, Heidelberg, and Taralgon. Existing centres in Bendigo, Dandenong, and Frankston will be cop a refurbishment and refresh as well.

“We’re not wasting a moment delivering the Royal Commission’s key recommendations,” Andrews said. “We’re giving young Victorians across the state support and care when they need it the most.”

Each of the new mental health centres will provide 10 beds for YPARC’s 24hr clinical care for people aged 16-25 on a short-to-medium term basis, freeing up space in the state’s hospital system through the use of early intervention and an alternative for recovery-focused treatment.

“We know how much better people’s health outcomes are when they get treatment and care close to their family, support networks and local community,” James Merlino added.

These new regional mental health sites are also being built off the back of the 65 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system, which was handed down back in February.

Image: Getty Images / Robert Cianflone