Budget 2020 means good news for youth mental health

14 October 2020, AustraliaAdvocating for mental health is nothing new for youth mental health charity, batyr, who welcome the Government’s 2020 Budget announcement and the focus on improving access to mental health services and supporting young people with mental ill-health to find employment.

“Young people have faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s great to see this continued focus on mental health in the 2020 Budget,” batyr CEO Nic Brown said. 

“We’re particularly supportive of a number of investments that align with our purpose.”

“We know that only around 22% of young people living with mental ill-health reach out for support1 – for those that don’t, it’s largely due to stigma.”

Nic Brown said the increase in access to Medicare-funded psychology sessions from 10 to 20 sessions per year is just one of the ways the Budget can help normalise reaching out for support when it’s needed. 

“The sessions doubling not only acknowledges the importance of psychological services, it also breaks down the cost barrier making them even more accessible,” he said.

Increasing the age limit of dependents on private health cover from 24 to 31 on private health cover will help to prevent young adults from falling through the cracks by allowing them to remain under their parents’ cover for longer.

The Budget also allocated $32.7m for youth mental health through organisations such as 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. 

“batyr always works to connect young people with incredible mental health support services,” Nic said.

“With this additional funding, these services and centres can continue to provide a safe space for young people to reach out and engage in the positive conversations batyr actively encourage.” 

“We know for young people in Victoria the impact of COVID-19 has been particularly tough, so the additional $47.3m the state will receive to support organisations like headspace, beyondblue, Lifeline and Kids Helpline will be vital.” 

“The $45.7m over four years allocated to the Youth Employment Strategy is also something we welcome, along with the new hiring credits for businesses to incentivise them to employ young people.”

“It’s estimated that there are 264,000 youth not in employment, education or training2 with around 60% living with mental ill-health3.”

“Our way of addressing this is through the work of our Being Herd Pathways program, which aims to support young people with mental ill-health on their journey to fulfilling employment.”

batyr also welcomes:

  • The $50.3m being allocated to support bushfire-affected areas including trauma response and the expansion of mental health services including telehealth.
  • The $10m dedicated to expand Standby – Support After Suicide, and $7m for the Way Back Support Service.
  • The $2.1m for The Prevention Hub, led by the Black Dog Institute and Everymind, to continue to advance research that targets people at heightened risk of mental ill-health and suicide. 
  • The $48.1m 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.

“The Government’s funding commitment at various levels is a big step forward in improving the mental health outcomes of young people in Australia and we look forward to the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report later this month.”

1 Young Australians: Their health and wellbeing, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011

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

3 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.