Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced an injection of more than $100 million into national youth mental health services to assist young Australians seeking help for depression and anxiety.
Mr Hunt said the initiatives receiving the funding would help schools and communities support the mental health and wellbeing of Australian children and respond to personal and community challenges.
“We know that around 4 million Australians experience a mental health condition every year,” he said.
“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.
“Programs for beyondblue, Headspace, Origin and Kids Helpline and Reach Out and others are all about ensuring that we provide assistance before the problems emerge and when they do emerge there are avenues for treatment and avenues for people to seek emergency help.”
Youth mental health group Headspace will receive a funding boost of $30 million which CEO Jason Trethowan said would fund the establishment of nine more Headspace centres across regional Australia.
The centres provide early intervention mental health services for people aged 12-25, as well as work and study support, and alcohol and drug services.
Last February, headspace launched the LGBTI-specific support service Qheadspace, an anonymous online chatroom staffed by both gender and sexuality diverse peer support leaders and professional counsellors to give young queer people assistance with coming out and personal issues.
In September, Headspace was one of a coalition of mental health groups who announced that the same-sex marriage postal survey campaign had led to a spike in demand for their services.
Mental health services Kids Helpline, ReachOut, Suicide Callback Service and national LGBTI-specific counselling service QLife will receive almost $2 million in funding over two years for their telephone, webchat and online mental health support services.
“The extension of funding announced for these key child and youth mental health initiatives will provide a stable funding base for the great work done by these organisations,” Mr Hunt said.
More than $45 million of the funding will go to beyondblue’s new school-based Mental Health in Education initiative, which gives school principals, parents and carers access to online mental health programs for students from early learning settings all the way to the end of secondary school.
beyondblue CEO Julia Gillard said the program will be introduced in August and provided free to all schools.
“We want educators to know what to look out for when kids start to struggle and where to turn for help, and how to look after their own mental health,” she said.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.