Thirty Victorian mental health hubs will keep operating for another 12 months to bridge the gap between permanent facilities opening.
The decision, announced on Tuesday, to keep the hubs open until at least the end of June 2023 is set to cost the state government about $7.5 million.
The hubs opened in late 2021 and act as an entry service to the state's mental health system, offering support to those without a GP referral or who don't meet eligibility criteria.
Brad Irwin, who lives with bipolar, said the Star Health-run hub in St Kilda had opened the doors for him to access to dental, rental and psychiatric services.
"My life has changed dramatically since I've been involved in this program and I know what it's done: it's stopped me going back to hospital," he told reporters.
"I don't know how much a hospital stay costs but I'm sure it costs a lot of money. This is cost effective."
The hubs will gradually be replaced by more than 50 permanent local services, a key recommendation of Victoria's mental health royal commission.
Mental Health Minister James Merlino said the facilities would provide deeper and more embedded care to patients.
"We'll have 15 of these permanent mental health locals up and running by mid-next year," he said, adding the rest would be open by 2026.
The first three permanent mental health hubs will open in coming months in La Trobe City, Benalla/Wangaratta/Mansfield and Frankston, with the next three to come online in Brimbank, Geelong/Queenscliff and Whittlesea by the end of this year.
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Australian Associated Press
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