$19m package makes hearty difference to headspace
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.