$19m pack­age makes hearty dif­fer­ence to headspace

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Health - Adam Cress­well

Health ed­i­tor

YOUTH men­tal health ser­vices na­tion­wide are to re­ceive a sig­nif­i­cant boost from the fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment of $19 mil­lion in grants.

The money, an­nounced by Health Min­is­ter Ni­cola Roxon on Tues­day, will be used to set up 20 new headspace one-stop youth men­tal health cen­tres, the ma­jor­ity in rural ar­eas.

All but one of the grants are for more than $900,000, and will be used to set up ser­vices that bring to­gether GPs, men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als, drug and al­co­hol work­ers, youth coun­sel­lors and al­lied health pro­fes­sion­als. Young peo­ple aged 12 to 25 are el­i­gi­ble, and the ser­vices are de­liv­ered free or at low cost.

Ms Roxon said there was a ‘‘ press­ing need’’ for the new cen­tres, as fig­ures showed up to 25 per cent of young Aus­tralians had a men­tal health prob­lem in any given year.

‘‘ This in­vest­ment is an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to­wards en­sur­ing the long-term well­ness of the wider Aus­tralian com­mu­nity, which will de­liver per­sonal, so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits,’’ Ms Roxon said in a state­ment.

‘‘ For ex­am­ple, we know from a re­cent Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion re­port that men­tal or ner­vous con­di­tions have dra­matic ef­fects on work­force par­tic­i­pa­tion — in fact, a greater ef­fect than can­cer, di­a­betes or car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases.’’

Ten headspace cen­tres are al­ready op­er­at­ing around the coun­try.

The pre­vi­ous Coali­tion Gov­ern­ment set up headspace with an al­lo­ca­tion of $69 mil­lion in the 2005/06 bud­get, as part of the Na­tional Youth Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion.

Headspace ad­vi­sory board chair­man Ryan Stokes said about 70 groups had ap­plied for the sec­ond round of fund­ing, mean­ing 50 com­mu­ni­ties had found a need for the ser­vice but missed out.

‘‘ We hope in the fu­ture to ex­pand the work that is un­der­taken here,’’ he said.

Ms Roxon an­nounced the new fund­ing at the West­ern Melbourne headspace cen­tre in sub­ur­ban Sun­shine and praised the work of the cen­tres so far.

‘‘ We think headspace is a great ex­am­ple of an in­no­va­tive approach to men­tal health care which is mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant in­roads into en­sur­ing young peo­ple with com­plex prob­lems can get the help they need as early as pos­si­ble,’’ she said.

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