Men­tal health top con­cern for youth

Alpine Observer - - News -

MA­JOR re­search un­der­taken by Mis­sion Aus­tralia has found that for the first time, men­tal health is the num­ber one is­sue of na­tional con­cern for young peo­ple in Vic­to­ria, hav­ing risen by 13.4 per cent in one year.

In Mis­sion Aus­tralia’s Youth Sur­vey 2018, four in 10 (43.1%) Vic­to­rian young peo­ple iden­ti­fied men­tal health as the top is­sue fac­ing Aus­tralia to­day – mov­ing from third to fi rst place in the list of is­sues of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance since 2017.

Men­tal health also en­tered the top three is­sues of per­sonal con­cern in the sur­vey. In line with the na­tional re­sults, the top three per­sonal con­cerns for Vic­to­rian young peo­ple were cop­ing with stress (45.0%), school or study prob­lems (35.0%) and men­tal health (32.8%).

In pre­vi­ous years, the third most cited item in Vic­to­ria was body im­age, which moved to the fourth spot in 2018 (31.8%). Each of the top four per­sonal con­cerns have strong links to men­tal health.

Alpine Health CEO, Lyn­don Seys, said that men­tal health and well­be­ing is one of the top 3 is­sues com­ing out of the de­vel­op­ing Alpine Health Ser­vice Plan 2018-2023.

“Alpine Health is com­mit­ted to work­ing with young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies to im­prove their men­tal health,” he added.

The Shire’s health body has a num­ber of ini­tia­tives in place to best sup­port young peo­ple; namely through the Com­mu­ni­ties That Care pro­gram (CTCA), youth ad­vo­cacy and sup­port, youth coun­selling and var­i­ous part­ner­ships with north east spe­cial­ist ser­vices.

Alpine Health em­ploys a youth worker and ado­les­cent health worker to as­sist schools and broader north east pro­grams with lo­cal kids and teenagers’ men­tal health and well­be­ing.

“Young peo­ple and par­ents can be re­ferred through their school, GP or other ser­vice providers, self-re­fer­ral or re­ferred by a friend. This is free ser­vice,” Mr Seys ex­plained.

Mis­sion Aus­tralia’s Vic­to­ria State Di­rec­tor, Nada Nasser said it was time young peo­ple’s men­tal health was pri­ori­tised.

“It’s im­por­tant that we ac­knowl­edge the ro­bust ef­forts in Vic­to­ria, na­tion­ally and internationally that have in­creased pub­lic aware­ness about men­tal health and helped to re­duce the stigma of men­tal health is­sues,” Ms Nasser said.

“Un­for­tu­nately, that help is not al­ways there for young peo­ple liv­ing across Vic­to­ria. The ser­vice sys­tem can be chal­leng­ing to nav­i­gate and the sup­port of­fered can be in­con­sis­tent, par­tic­u­larly in re­gional and ru­ral ar­eas.”

Ms Nasser called for more in­vest­ment in ev­i­dence-based pro­grams that pro­mote men­tal health and well­be­ing in schools, as well as holis­tic sup­ports for young peo­ple that meet a range of needs dur­ing ado­les­cence, such as as­sis­tance with school or study prob­lems and cop­ing with stress.

Half of Vic­to­rian fe­male re­spon­dents iden­ti­fied men­tal health as a na­tional con­cern (50.0%), while just over one third of Vic­to­rian male re­spon­dents re­ported this as an im­por­tant is­sue in Aus­tralia (34.0%).

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