Men­tal health ser­vice boost

$50m for headspace hubs

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

MORE young Aus­tralians bat­tling men­tal health is­sues will be able to get help from the ex­perts at headspace, with Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son to to­day an­nounce a $50 mil­lion cash in­jec­tion for the life­sav­ing ser­vice.

Mr Mor­ri­son is vow­ing the money will fund an ex­tra 14,000 men­tal health ser­vices each year at headspace’s 107 youth men­tal health hubs across Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing more than $750,000 for Tas­ma­nia’s two headspace cen­tres.

The money will help cen­tres em­ploy more clin­i­cal staff and re­duce wait­ing times.

An ex­tra $12 mil­lion will be spent on eHeadspace, a dig­i­tal sup­port ser­vice for young Aus- tralians who can’t ac­cess cen­tres or who pre­fer to use on­line ser­vices to ac­cess sup­port.

The fund­ing boost comes af­ter News Corp’s Can We Talk cam­paign saved headspace from likely doom in 2016, when it re­vealed the Turn­bull Govern­ment’s plan to al­low lo­cal health bu­reau­crats to de­cide whether to fund in­di­vid­ual headspace cen­tres.

As a di­rect re­sult, the Govern­ment ring-fenced headspace’s fund­ing, guar­an­tee­ing the ser­vice would sur­vive.

With more than three quar­ters of men­tal health prob­lems start­ing be­fore the age of 25, headspace cen­tres of­fer free ac­cess to psy­chi­a­trists, psy­chol­o­gists, so­cial work­ers, doc­tors and nurses for young Aus­tralians aged 12 to 25.

New re­search, re­leased last week, re­vealed one third of young Aus­tralians are re­port­ing high or very high lev­els of psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress — more than three times the num­ber about a decade ago. Young women re­ported higher rates of dis­tress than men with 38 per cent of fe­males com­pared with 26 per cent of young men.

Headspace chief ex­ec­u­tive Ja­son Trethowan at­trib­uted the rise in men­tal health is­sues to an in­crease in the use of so­cial me­dia, exam pres­sures and chang­ing fam­ily re­la­tion­ships.

“This in­vest­ment will as­sist in headspace be­ing more ac­ces­si­ble,” Mr Trethowan said.

Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said the Govern­ment would en­sure the men­tal health of young Aus­tralians was made a ma­jor pri­or­ity.

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