World first conference to put election spotlight on mental health

Mental health is a hot issue for the upcoming Federal and Victorian State elections, and the focus will be even more acute with the nation's leading mental health experts and advocates gathering in Melbourne later this month
for the world's first youth mental health conference.

Heads Up! The First International Youth Mental Health Conference will address the challenges faced by young people growing up in Australian society, where one in four young people will experience a mental health problem every year.
Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry AO, will convene the conference. "This conference is the beginning of a new era in mental health as it heralds the first building block in the construction of a brand new professional field. The conference will also keep the spotlight on Federal and State governments and what they are doing to tackle mental ill health and its consequences in young people," Professor McGorry said.

"Heads Up! will reinforce the urgent need for collaboration between the mental health sector and the government to provide a holistic and effective approach to helping young people at risk of mental health issues.

"Now is the time for action rather than talk from the Federal and State governments and opposition parties. We need to see real mental health reform, regardless of who is in power." 

Heads Up! is an important event for Australia and the mental health field. Leading national and international approaches to research and evidence-based practice will be presented at the conference, with a focus on youth  issues including cyber safety, eHealth, substance use and the challenges for same-sex attracted youth.

Former Chair of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission Dr Christine Bennett will provide a keynote address, accompanied by leading international experts, Professor Jane Costello from the USA and Professor Max Birchwood from the UK.

Heads Up! is presented by headspace, Australia's youth mental health foundation with the support of its key partners Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Youth beyondblue, Australian General Practice Network, VicHealth, St John of God and BUPA.

headspace CEO Chris Tanti said those attending the conference will leave with a greater appreciation of the challenges faced by young people in Australia and all around the world, and  the many factors impacting on their mental health and wellbeing. 

"It is so important that we as a community understand the importance of investing in the mental health and wellbeing of young people right across the globe but particularly in Australia where we are now getting real traction on the issues," Mr Tanti said.

Heads Up!  The First International Youth Mental Health Conference will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 29-30 July 2010. For further information:

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

headspace media contact:   
Briony Walker
Mob 0402 399 746
Tel 03 9027 0112  
Twitter: @IYMH_conference
Note: Media passes available.