Vulnerable students across Victorian government schools are soon to be supported through comprehensive mental health programs as part of the Labour Government’s Victorian Anti-Bullying and Mental Health Initiative (VABMHI).
headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, has received funding of $4.48 million to deliver the mental health components of the VABMHI, including the Better Access to Mental Health Support Initiative and Suicide Prevention Pilot Program.
headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said this is a positive partnership reaching students who may be at-risk of mental health issues.
“headspace is excited to be partnering with the Victorian Department of Education to ensure young people have access to early intervention mental health services. It is crucial to build the capacity of Victorian schools to help young people to seek help early and be supported on issues such as bullying, depression and anxiety,” Mr Trethowan said.
“This is an opportunity for headspace centres to work with the education sector for the benefit of all young people.”
Students aged 12-18 will have access to mental health services through Victorian headspace centres, both during and after-school hours, as well as through the eheadspace platform, which provides support via phone or web-chat between the hours of 9am-1am seven-days-a-week.
Additional resources will also be targeted to schools in areas where there is no headspace centre.
"headspace will continue to work closely with the Victorian Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to ensure the effective and efficient roll out of this initiative, and where possible align this offering with other regional initiatives commissioned by PHNs," Mr Trethowan said.
Minister for Education James Merlino said students have a right to be able to complete their education with holistic support regarding their mental health and wellbeing.
“We’re proud to be partnering with Australia’s number one youth mental health organisation to boost access to mental health services for Victorian teenagers and to also build the skills of our education workforce they can better respond to students facing mental health issues,” Minister Merlino said.
Through this funding headspace will provide a minimum of 335 additional face-to-face sessions per week through centres, and eheadspace will offer an additional 74 appointments each week for government secondary school students in regional and remote areas.
Teachers and student support staff will be provided with SAFEMinds training to help them identify and respond to mental health issues in young people such as anxiety and depression, which are the two most common issues experienced in young people.
Mr Trethowan said headspace was proud to be working with the Department as part of a Suicide Prevention Pilot to deliver our Suicide Risk Continuum Training package for counsellors and psychologists, support service staff and teachers across Victoria.
“This evidence-based training helps staff understand risk factors associated with suicide, and enables them to identify and respond to students who may be at increased risk of suicide and provide appropriate support to them,” he said.
The VABMHI brings together resources available across government to help schools address bullying in all its forms to provide Victorian schools with tools and resources to build a culture of respect and understanding, and to empower students to speak out when they see bullying.
Other VABMHI programs and resources include: the Bully Stoppers program, a statewide Bullying prevention policy: the Safe Schools program, and the eSmart schools for cyber safety.