A conversation with Dr Ravi Bhat

PUSHING FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES… Clinical director at GV Area Mental Health Services, Dr Ravi Bhat. Photo: Steve Hutcheson

Mental health in the Goulburn Valley is probably not much different to anywhere else in the state while at the same time, there is greater acceptance in the community that it is something where we need to continue the conversation.

Dr Ravi Bhat is the clinical director at GV Area Mental Health Service as well as an associate professor of psychiatry with Melbourne University.

Dr Bhat came to Australia in 1999 with his young family, having grown up and been educated in India and took a position with GV Health as a consultant psychiatrist.

His professional interests have been in aged care mental health, suicide and rural mental health services. It was through his campaigning that GV Health was recently granted funding by the State Government to support the HOPE Program.

The HOPE program is intended to provide additional health service availability to people in the community who are at risk of suicide.

In the discussion on what drives suicide, one in five people in the general Australian community are suffering some form of mental illness including alcohol and drug use disorders, which, until recently was often stigmatised and closed to discussion. Fortunately that has changed. In addition to this, he pointed out that, across the spectrum of our community, a larger number of people suffer from mental health issues. It is the three percent at the end of the spectrum with severe mental illnesses who have a high risk for suicide.

The causation of suicide is complex. The profession considers it to be a combination of biological, psychological or sociological factors in nature. Factors such as economic circumstances, drug and alcohol abuse, even one’s relationships have all been shown to contribute.  As a clinician, Dr Bhat believes everyone who needs help should be able to get it.

“As a society, it comes down to how we take care of others, who we are, what are our values and what we want our children to be,” said Dr Bhat.