by Sam Refshauge, batyr CEO
The third national report on young people’s mental health produced by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute released on Wednesday, provides continued cause for concern. The findings reveal that Mental ill Health is impacting ¼ young people, prevalence of Mental Health issues are on the rise and as a nation we are not doing enough to support those who are struggling.
The report confirms that mental illness is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, and one that requires a holistic approach starting with far more emphasis at the early intervention and preventative education end of the spectrum. Far more than the current 2% of expenditure budgeted at this most pivotal point of the national health and education systems.
The time has come for a consolidated national program in schools to engage, educate and empower young people to speak out about mental health issues and reach out for help when they need it. This report calls for the need to focus on a universal provision of evidence based prevention programs for young people in schools.
A program not dissimilar to the one batyr is running in schools and universities across the nation. The batyr program is based on the in-vivo model of peer to peer based sharing of lived experience to reduce stigma and improve attitudes towards help seeking (Corrigan 2012). By using young speakers with a lived mental health experience, organisations like batyr may create an environment where seeking help and talking about mental health is not only accepted but encouraged and supported, an area of current failing that the report highlighted.
So lets use this new information to put pressure on the people who can actively implement positive change on a national basis. This is an issue that sits across the health & education system, has support from the Prime Minister & across parties and requires urgent action.
As both Helen Christensen and Catherine Yeomans agree, young people are our future. We owe it to them to follow the recommendations of this report and set them on a path to mentally healthier lives by investing in a holistic program of early intervention and education for young people, their teachers and parents.