Good news for youth mental health in Budget 2020

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Good news for youth mental health in Budget 2020

October 11, 2020

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Access to Medicare-funded psychology sessions will double from 10 to 20 sessions per year as part of the Federal Government’s 2020 Budget.

This is just one of the announcements to come from the Government’s $5.7 billion mental health funding commitment over two years, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg once again highlighting mental health and suicide prevention as a national priority.

This $5.7b figure is a combination of some measures which have been previously announced and some significant new funding, including $165.9m in response to the COVID-19 since March.

batyr welcomes the Government’s focus on improving mental health support, particularly as young people have been facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic.

What is the Budget doing for youth mental health?

  • From Friday, you’ll be able to access up to 20 Medicare-subsidised psychology sessions each calendar year with a Mental Health Treatment Plan, up from 10 sessions a year.
  • The age of dependents has been increased to 31 on private health cover, which means you can remain under your parents cover when you’re over the age of 24.
  • $32.7m has been allocated for youth mental health through Lifeline, Kids Helpline and headspace centres, including the upgrade of the Mount Barker (SA) , Batemans Bay (NSW) and Roma and Emerald (QLD) services to full centres.
  • Victoria will receive an additional $47.3m for mental health and crisis support services including $5m for headspace, $2.5m for beyondblue, $2.5m for Lifeline and $2m for Kids Helpline, as well as 15 new dedicated mental health ‘Head to Health’ clinics.
  • $45.7m over four years has been allocated to expand the Individual Placement and Support program under the Youth Employment Strategy to assist vulnerable young people with mental ill-health to participate in the workforce. Similarly, businesses may be eligible for a hiring credit to encourage them to employ young people. We support this announcement as it complements the work of our Being Herd Pathways program, which aims to empower and support young people with mental ill-health on their journey to fulfilling employment. It’s estimated that there are 264,000 youth not in employment, education or training1 with around 60% living with mental ill-health2.

Further mental health funding

  • $50.3m has been allocated to support bushfire-affected areas including trauma response and expanding mental health services including telehealth.
  • $10m has been dedicated to expand Standby – Support After Suicide, and $7m for the Way Back Support Service.
  • The Prevention Hub, led by the Black Dog Institute and Everymind, will receive $2.1m to continue to advance research that targets people at heightened risk of mental ill-health and suicide. 
  • $48.1m has been allocated to implement the National Mental Health Pandemic Response Plan, which aims to meet the mental health and wellbeing needs of all Australians impacted by COVID-19 in the short and long-term.

“We have a nation that needs new support,” Minister for Health Greg Hunt said.

“And we know that for so many people the other great element of this budget, of job creation, of getting people back to work, isn’t just about economic support, it’s about mental health support.”

batyr considers these funding announcements a big win for the mental health of young people.

We look forward to the Productivity Commission’s final report which is set to be released later this month and will likely include further funding allocations.

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1 Brotherhood of St. Laurence Dec 2017, Reality Bites: Australia’s youth unemployment in a millennial era

² Goldman-Mellor S, Caspi A, Arseneault L, Ajala N, Ambler A, Danese A, Fisher H, Hucker A, Odgers C, Williams T. Committed to work but vulnerable: self-perceptions and mental health in NEET 18-year olds from a contemporary British cohort. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2016