$5m Government funding for headspace vital to supporting young people in Victoria

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation welcomes the $5m investment announced by the Federal Government today to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people in Victoria. The funding will be targeted towards young people out of work and those in Year 11 and 12, TAFE or university, experiencing major disruptions to life as a result of COVID-19 and increased restrictions in the state.  

The Federal Government also announced funding for mental health sector partners, including $2m for Kids Helpline and $2.5m for Lifeline to support an increase in calls, and $2.5m for Beyond Blue to extend hours to support web chat services.

The $5m boost will enable headspace to increase outreach into Victorian communities to ensure young people are supported both throughout this period and into the future via a range of in person and online services. Services will be tailored to also support parents and guardians of young people and work closely with schools and other key networks young people are engaged with.

This funding announcement comes off the back of headspace releasing research that found 41% of young Victorians aged 12 to 25 felt that COVID-19 had impacted their confidence to achieve future goals. The data, captured during the time of the first lockdown in the state, found that 55% of Victorian young people felt their mental health had gotten worse. Half of Victorian young people also felt their study (55%) and work (47%) situation has been negatively impacted due to the pandemic.

headspace CEO, Jason Trethowan said the pandemic is having a profound impact on the lives of young people and this funding will go a long way to ensuring headspace can reach young people throughout Victoria and get help to those who need it.

“COVID-19 is significantly impacting the mental health and wellbeing of young people. Young people are experiencing major disruptions to school, work and study, changes to social and family life and increasing loneliness.

“Once more, these events are occurring for young people in already critical transition periods, identified as high risk, and without the usual support structures. This is why it’s vital that we adapt quickly and create new support structures for young people in communities across Victoria to ensure they can access help to get through this very challenging period”.

Trethowan said the sharp rise in youth unemployment and projected unemployment trends resulting from COVID-19 are creating a range of future uncertainties for young people and this will have a profound effect on their mental health.  

“There will be a flow on of long-term social and economic impacts on the lives of young people. These have the potential to influence young people and their family’s mental health and wellbeing for many years. We need to get ahead of this and put measures in place to support the wellbeing of young people to make sure they are feeling more prepared and hopeful for the future.

 “We applaud the Federal Government for making the decision to inject funds into these critical programs that will ensure young people can get the help they need and back on track.”

Young people going through a tough time who might need support can contact their local GP, local headspace centre or visit eheadspace. 

For further information about the full package announced by the Federal Government please visit: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/press-conference-australian-parliament-house-9