headspace welcomes record $20m NSW Government investment in youth mental health workforce

headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, has welcomed today’s announcement of a $20 million commitment from the New South Wales Government to bolster its youth mental health workforce over the next two years.

In recognition of the added demand for headspace services since the outbreak of COVID-19, the funding package will grow the number of mental health professionals in NSW headspace centres, providing up to 55,000 additional services to young people.

This is the largest commitment to headspace by any State and Territory Government and comes at a vital time as young people feel the impacts of the pandemic on their mental health and wellbeing.

The funding will boost opportunities for additional medical services available for young people, particularly for those with complex needs.

Between now and 2023, three new initiatives will commence:

1. Student placement program

Up to 350 Social Work and Occupational Therapy students, as well as Psychology Masters and Doctorate candidates, will be supported to complete placement programs in headspace centres, delivering a major uplift in the service’s capacity to support young Australians. These students will be supported to provide mental health care to young people by funded clinical educators.

2. GP capacity boost

The funding package will boost resources for GPs responding to young people who present to headspace with complex needs. GPs working in the headspace network provide vital care for young people’s mental, physical and sexual health, and work with other headspace staff to improve outcomes for those young people.

3. Introducing sessional psychiatrists into NSW headspace centres

headspace and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists will work together to place sessional psychiatrists in headspace centres across NSW. Psychiatrists will provide specialist supports to and oversight of headspace and the young people who access its services.

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan thanked the NSW Government, including Premier Dom Perrottet and Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor for helping headspace provide more support to young people across New South Wales.

“Never has it been more important to support the mental health of young people in New South Wales,” Mr Trethowan said.

“headspace centres in NSW have experienced a significant increase in demand over the past two years, as young people have been impacted disproportionately by COVID-19 and efforts to contain its spread.

“We know an important part of providing timely mental health support to young people is having an available workforce with the ability to respond to more frequent and more complex calls for help.

“The student placement program will not only boost headspace’s capacity to provide that support now, but will go a long way to building a sustainable youth mental health workforce in NSW into the future.

“We look forward to working with the operators of NSW headspace centres and Primary Health Networks in the implementation of the program.”

headspace is the largest youth mental health provider in Australia. Our network of 38 centres across NSW provides tailored and holistic mental health support to thousands of young people aged 12-25 every year. Its state-wide reach, trusted brand and evidence-based model mean headspace is the right platform to scale up quickly to meet increased demand for youth mental health support.