Victorian State Budget needed to do more on mental health

headspace believes today's Victorian State Budget has failed to adequately address one of the most serious health issues facing people in our community - mental health.

The CEO of headspace, Mr Chris Tanti, said the budget contains no meaningful community investment in early intervention services for mental health.

"One in four families in Victoria and Australia are dealing with a loved one who has a mental health issue," Mr Tanti said.

"The question headspace wants answered is when are the state governments of this country going to get serious about tackling mental health."

"Today's budget has very little new investment mental health for young people - $14 million over four years. Governments need to start better understanding the myriad of ways mental health can affect people and the pressure this places on our already overstretched health systems. Early intervention in the lives of young adults who may be vulnerable to mental health problems is the only way to relieve this pressure," Mr Tanti said.

However, headspace has welcomed the Victorian Government's funding of the $3.6 million youth suicide community support program aimed at reducing suicides amongst same sex attracted and Indigenous young people.

"Those aged between 15 and 24 are in the highest risk brackets when it comes to suicide. We are at risk of losing a generation of young people if we don't deal effectively with this epidemic.

It is unacceptable that the community remains largely unaware of the high rates of suicide amongst young adults, and that if you are gay and indigenous, your risk increases fourfold," Mr Tanti said.

headspace has also acknowledged the Victorian Government's attempt at boosting early intervention services for vulnerable young people with the expansion of youth mental health teams in rural and regional Victoria and the funding of additional Mental Health Graduate Diplomas for Teaching Professions.

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the Youth Mental Health Initiative Program. And headspace is also supportive of the Victorian Government's Respect Agenda and its attempt to eradicate street violence through the new 55 youth workers, who will work with young people caught with knives, and the $4.4 million Respect on the Streets initiative. The cyber safety education program also recognises the need to address the worrying increase in
cyber bullying.

"But while this program is a reasonable attempt to address the street violence and bullying issues, headspace is calling on the Government to lift its eyes and see what is happening in its own backyard to young people in our schools, particularly those who are same-sex attracted," Mr Tanti said.

"Violence against young people, whether it's a fight on a city street or bullying in a school yard or on-line, is not acceptable. And it is especially hard for a person who already feels marginalised by society.

"But overall, headspace feels the Victorian Government could have done much more to help those who are most in need in our community."

headspace has 30 centres in both regional and metropolitan Australia that offer health advice, support and information for young people. A headspace centre is youth friendly, a place where young people can seek help and a confidential low cost or free service.

headspace media contact:

Briony Walker
Mob 0402 399 746