$110M Package Tackles Anxiety and Depression Among Young Australians
Tuesday, 9th January 2018 at 8:46 am
The government has announced a $110 million boost in funding to fight anxiety and depression among young people.
The funding is set to go towards school mental health programs and a range of new headspace centres, with $46 million set aside for beyondblue’s new Mental Health in Education initiative.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt, who announced the package on Monday, said these “positive initiatives” would help schools and communities to support the wellbeing and mental health of Australian kids and respond rapidly to personal and community challenges.
“We know that around four million Australians experience a mental health condition every year,” Hunt said.
“And people of all ages can be affected – either directly themselves or because someone close to them might be suffering. Even young children can be deeply affected.”
As part of the funding, beyondblue will receive up to $46 million for its integrated school-based Mental Health in Education initiative, which is currently in its design and development phase and will be launched in August this year.
The latest funding will allow the initiative to continue for another two years, past the initial two-year funding phase granted in mid-2017.
Georgie Harman, CEO of beyondblue, told Pro Bono News the new initiative would give early learning services and primary and secondary school communities easy and free access to a comprehensive range of mental health resources that could be accessed at any time, both online and face-to-face.
“This will mean early learning services and schools are equipped to support the mental health of Australian children and young people from the day they enter the education system to the end of year 12,” Harman said.
“It will increase the mental health literacy and confidence of educators so they can support children, young people and their parents and carers to build skills to better deal with life’s challenges as they arise.
“The initiative will also support and educate student teachers through their university training so when they step into a school or early learning service they are literate in mental health, can recognise the symptoms of mental health conditions and know what to do to support their students and refer them to the right support networks.”
Harman said one in seven secondary school age young Australians had a mental health condition in any given year, and half of all mental health issues emerged before the age of 14.
“That’s why prevention will be a prominent focus of the beyondblue National Education Initiative. We need to deal with stress and mental health issues before they become significant,” she said.
“The initiative will give early learning services and school communities the tools to recognise the signs of mental health challenges and deal with them before the symptoms become acute.
“The initiative will span all needs – from promoting good mental health to prevention activities to early intervention support for kids experiencing mental health issues, to crisis support to secondary schools when there is a suicide.
“For secondary schools dealing with a suicide, we will provide extensive post suicide support for the entire school community that is dealing with the trauma.”
In addition to beyondblue, the latest funding package will see $16 million go to Emerging Minds for the National Workforce Support in Child Mental Health initiative.
Funding of $2.5 million will provide for an evaluation of the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program – which has been extended until June 2021.
The headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation will also receive additional funding of $30 million for the headspace national program allowing it to provide further support to Primary Health Networks in commissioning headspace services.
Orygen will receive additional funding of $13.5 million for the operation of the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health to continue to provide national leadership for youth mental health in research, policy advice and workforce training.
A total of four digital mental health services – Kids Helpline, ReachOut, Suicide Callback Service and QLife – also received $1.8 million additional funding over two years.
Hunt said the extension of funding for these key child and youth mental health initiatives would “provide a stable funding base for the great work done by these organisations”.
“Keeping children and young people healthy and happy is good for them, their families and for the broader community,” he said.