Mental Health

Children and young people are supported to lead healthy and happy lives, develop resilience and get the right support at the right time.

The action needed

Work with schools to help young people access supports

Increase investment in and expand the budget for evidence-based, prevention and early intervention mental health and wellbeing programs and initiatives in schools across the state.

Ensure children and young people in regional NSW get the help they need

Support and resource low-cost, community-based youth mental health support services, with a focus on investment in regional, remote and rural areas, that:

  • are recovery-oriented and trauma-informed;
  • promote care coordination; and
  • complement and integrate with clinical and acute care services.

Why it is needed

Good mental health and wellbeing enables children and young people to lead healthier lives, cope with the stresses of life more effectively and realise their full potential. No one understands this more than young people themselves; we know that mental health is the number one issue of concern for young people in NSW and across Australia right now.1

But getting the right support at the right time is often out of reach for too many of our young people and particularly those experiencing multiple and diverse forms of disadvantage.

Across NSW we continue to hear that key barriers for youth include persistent stigma around mental health and a lack of affordable community mental health supports (and the means to access them), particularly in regional and remote communities. This is consistent with ReachOut and Mission Australia’s 2018 research finding that:

  • 4 in 10 young people feel too embarrassed to seek professional help (42.4%).
  • Almost half couldn’t afford to get professional help even if they wanted to (48.1%).
  • Around 1 in 4 didn’t have transport to get to a service (28%), wouldn’t have time to get professional help (25.4%), or said local services were unavailable to them (24.%).2

We know that transport in regional and remote communities is a significant barrier to young people accessing the services they need. We also know that properly resourcing schools and the community mental health sector to connect with young people is crucial to addressing their mental health and wellbeing needs.

As a central access point and place of engagement, schools have a significant role to play in promoting mental health and wellbeing to young people, including coping with stress and reducing stigma.3,4 They are therefore the ideal setting to provide preventions and interventions to improve mental health and mental health awareness, reduce stigma, encourage help-seeking and provide referral pathways to support.5 Communities tell us about the incredible work their local schools are doing to support student mental health and wellbeing, but that their resources are limited and often mean they are unable to engage the full-time staff or range of services and programs needed.

We also hear about the need right across NSW for more affordable community-based supports that maximise opportunities to prevent the impact of mental illness by intervening early and reducing the need for crisis care and hospitalisations, while improving individual wellbeing and strengthening communities.6 Our members also tell us that youth peer support can and should play a key role, with peer education initiatives found to enhance young people’s self-esteem, self-efficacy and sense of control over their lives, resulting in more positive health-related behaviours. 7,8

4 in 10

young people feel too embarrassed to seek professional help

1 in 4

didn’t have transport to get to a service

NCOSS was pleased to see $42 million for community-based mental health services and supports in the mental health budget for 2018-19. However, we need more significant, sustained and targeted investment in community-based supports that are youth focused and designed, culturally appropriate, trauma-informed and recovery-oriented, particularly for regional, rural and remote areas, if we are to meet the needs of young people in all their diversity.

  1. Bullot A., Cave, L., Fildes, J., Hall, S. and Plummer, J. 2017, Mission Australia’s 2017 Youth Survey Report, Mission Australia
  2. Ivancic, L., Cairns, K., Shuttleworth, L., Welland, L., Fildes, J. and Nicholas, M. 2018, Lifting the weight: Understanding young people’s mental health and service needs in regional and remote Australia. Sydney: ReachOut Australia and Mission Australia
  3. Bullot A., Cave, L., Fildes, J., Hall, S. and Plummer, J. 2017, op. cit.
  4. Wyn, J., Cahill, H., Holdsworth, R., Rowling, L., & Carson, S. 2000, ‘MindMatters, a whole-school approach promoting mental health and wellbeing’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34 (4), 594-601.
  5. Bullot A., Cave, L., Fildes, J., Hall, S. and Plummer, J. 2017, op. cit.
  6. Tew, J., Ramon, S., Slade, M., Bird, V., Melton, J. & Le Boultillier, C. 2011, Social factors and recovery from mental health difficulties: a review of the evidence. British Journal of Social Work.
  7. Bullot A., Cave, L., Fildes, J., Hall, S. and Plummer, J. 2017, op. cit.
  8. Turner, G. 1999, ‘Peer support and young people’s health’, Journal of Adolescence, 22, 567-572
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