QLD Schools Lead on National Mental Health Priorities
26 June 2014 at 9:55 am
A Queensland Medicare Local initiative says it’s leading the way in targeting mental health in schools through awareness and intervention programs ahead of recommendations made in a recent national report.
Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local Chief Executive Officer Abbe Anderson said a national mental health report, released last week, had recommended strategies very similar to those already being successfully delivered in their local community.
“A Mission Australia report, released in partnership with the Black Dog Institute, has recommended targeting mental health in schools through awareness and early intervention programs,” Anderson said.
“Support staff received youth mental health training and more than 5000 high school students participated in mental health and wellbeing workshops as part of a Medicare Local funded initiative finalised earlier this month.
“The report also called for those working with young people, including teachers, to be trained on mental health issues and given skills for dealing with related problems.”
The Mission Australia report report found that one in five young Australians are likely to be experiencing mental illness, and less than 40 per cent are comfortable seeking professional help.
Professor Helen Christensen, Director of the Black Dog Institute, said in the report that these results were sobering yet not unexpected.
“We know that Australian young people are struggling, but as our recommendations show, we also know how many of these issues can be addressed,” she said.
“We need to teach appropriate mental health strategies and awareness in schools, just like we teach English, maths and science. We also need to provide quality support and advice via channels that they are comfortable approaching.”
Abbe Anderson said Dovetail, a youth health initiative of Queensland’s Metro North Mental Health – Alcohol and Drug Service, received $150,000 in flexible funding from the Medicare Local to deliver the Mental Health Promotion in Schools initiative in a staged rollout over 17 months.
“As part of this project, 5337 high school students from across Brisbane’s north side and Moreton Bay region participated in mental health workshops designed to address self-esteem issues, goal-setting, personal health and student wellbeing,” Anderson said.
Anderson said very positive feedback had been received about the project from students, school support staff, school nurses and youth workers.
“For example, a student survey found over 95 per cent of respondents who attended the mental health workshops thought they gained a better understanding about where to go for extra help or support,” she said.
Some of the school resources are available electronically and can be accessed from Dovetail’s website.
The Medicare Local is part of an Australia-wide network of 61 independent organisations set up to improve access to better coordinated primary health care services in their local areas.