Key messages

  • Mental health triage is the most common entry point into the mental health system and is available around the clock all over the state.
  • Triage provides an initial assessment and identifies whether a person needs further assessment or referral.
  • There is a statewide triage scale and guidelines to provide advice to staff.

The mental health triage service is the usual entry point to mental health services. Each public mental health service in Victoria provides a psychiatric triage and referral service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Triage process

Mental health triage involves initial assessment of a person with a mental illness (typically over the phone or face-to-face if they present in person) by a mental health clinician to determine the type and urgency of the response required from mental health or other services.

The triage process also identifies whether the person needs further assessment by the specialist mental health or other services.

If specialist mental health services are not the most appropriate option for the person, they may be referred to another service (for example, general practitioner or medical specialist) or given other advice.

Mental health triage scale

There is a uniform, statewide mental health triage scale for Victorian mental health services and their respective mental health clinicians performing the triage function.

The scale guidelines provide advice on the mental health triage process, factors in triage decisions and how to use the triage scale.

Mental health services must ensure that well developed triage assessment protocols and tools are available and that staff are trained in their use, such as risk assessment tools, functioning assessment tools (for example, the Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS)) and triage manuals/practice directions.