Today’s announcement of a world-first National Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Australian children is both welcome and desperately needed, but this Government has taken far too long to get there.
Labor welcomes the plan to tackle mental health issues in young Australians through early intervention, as well as the extra funds for support services like Head to Health.
However, this is long overdue.
This strategy was in the works well before COVID and it should have been implemented much sooner.
There is an urgent need to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australian children, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
According to the Black Dog Institute, the rates of psychological distress in young people jumped from one in five in 2012 to over a quarter in 2020.
This plan also fails to consider the impact of climate change on children’s mental health.
Australian children are especially vulnerable to anxiety, sleep disorders and a sense of hopelessness because of this Government’s failure to take action on climate change. And yet, there’s no consideration of this in their national strategy.
With students now preparing to head back to the classroom after a lengthy lockdown, it’s more important than ever that they have access to mental health support services.
The Government needs to adopt and implement all of the recommendations in this strategy immediately, and in partnership with the states and territories.
We need to make sure we have the right resources in place to make this plan work.
The mental health and wellbeing of Australian children is too important.
They can’t afford to wait any longer.