Mental health top concern for youth
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%).