ASSOCIATE professor Russell Roberts, the man attributed with creating world-class mental health services at the Bloomfield campus in Orange, is leaving his role with the Western Local Health District (WLHD) after seven years.
Dr Roberts, the director of mental health and drug and alcohol services, has told the Central Western Daily he has taken up an offer to work in his field at a state and federal level.
Although he cannot disclose what his new role will be at this stage, Dr Russell says he’s looking forward to a new challenge.
“First of all I will take some time out to spend with my family,” Dr Roberts said.
WLHD chief executive officer Scott McLachlan said Dr Roberts had been instrumental in introducing a number of services at Bloomfield and throughout the WLHD.
“We will be sad to see him go - he’s made such an enormous contribution,” Mr McLachlan said.
Dr Roberts says he feels privileged to have worked with people passionate about mental health services.
“They are so dedicated and in the western area of New South Wales we now have one of the best mental health services in country or metropolitan areas,” he said.
“We are the envy of most of the country.”
Dr Roberts said in the last few years it had been gratifying to see the recognition of the importance of focusing on mental health as part of overall wellness.
“Particularly in the last 11 or 12 years, it is encouraging to see how far we have come with depression, for example,” he said.
“For some people it can be a one-off and short-term experience, for others it may take a while to get back to full function and for others it can be ongoing and debilitating.
“Mental health has become more mainstream.”
Dr Roberts said the growing emphasis on maintaining good physical health for people with a mental health issue was now rightly well recognised.
When it comes to the issue of alcohol abuse in society in Australia he says there are no quick fixes but there needs to be a combined approach to improving the situation.
“Alcohol abuse causes extensive harm in our society and for some reason we are not like other countries,” he said.
“It will take time and effort to understand how it has happened and how we can get ourselves out of it.”
l If you or someone you know needs help with drug and alcohol issues call the Drug and Alcohol Helpline on 1300 887 000.