August 2, 2022

Meet Dr Vinay Lakra, Divisional Director, Mental Health

On 1 July, Northern Health officially became a designated mental health service. Approximately 800 staff were welcomed to the Northern Health family. Collectively, this makes us the third largest mental health service in Victoria.

Today, we introduce yet another of the key members leading the new mental health team at Northern Health – Dr Vinay Lakra, Divisional Director Clinical Services.

Vinay, let’s start with your coffee order? 

A latte, but I drink coffee more to have a hot drink than in the interest of coffee. Sorry coffee lovers. The other thing I enjoy is a well made Indian tea with some ginger and a few other condiments in it.

Tell us about your role and what it entails?

I will be the Medical Lead for Mental Health. We are a very large service with multiple sites spread over a vast geographic area.

I also have a couple of other roles which keep me busy. I am the President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and a member of the Victorian Board of the Medical Board of Australia.

Dr Lakra in the regalia of the office of the President of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day can be very flexible depending on the demands, from a number of meetings to many phone calls. The thing I like best about my day is that no two days are same. I enjoy the flexibility and variety in what I do.

What excites you about your role?

I have always had an interest in being able to make a positive impact on the lives of other people. This role allows me to shape the future of mental health services in our region. The recommendations from the Royal Commission will keep us busy. There is a lot to do and that in itself is exciting. 

What are some of the challenges of this role?

The transition of services to Northern Health brings some challenges, but there are lots of opportunities too. Workforce remains a key issue for us. We value our staff and they are the most important asset in our health system as, without them, we would not be able to provide care to our patients. 

Lastly, what would people be most surprised to know about you?

Many might not know that I have done bungee jumping and jumped off a plane once, obviously in tandem and with a parachute. And we recently got a puppy called Biscuit.