Mental Health Australia Update

Headspace on board for schools anti-bullying package

Australia’s leading youth mental health organisation, headspace, will deliver new targeted mental health programs for Victorian government schools as part of a new partnership with the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Education James Merlino  announced headspace will deliver the $4.48 million mental health components of the Government’s Victorian Anti-Bullying and Mental Health Initiative, including the Better Access to Mental Health Support initiative and a Suicide Prevention Pilot program.

headspace will provide clinical mental health services for students aged 12-18 both during and after school hours through Victorian headspace centres and the eheadspace platform, which provides support via phone, email or webchat. Additional eheadspace resources will be targeted to schools in areas without a headspace centre.

The funding will enable headspace to provide additional face-to-face sessions per week, while eheadspace will increase their services for government secondary school students in rural and remote areas.

Under the partnership, headspace will provide additional SAFEMinds training sessions for teachers and student support to help them identify and respond to mental health concerns, particularly depression and anxiety.

Through the Suicide Prevention Pilot, headspace will deliver its Suicide Risk Training package for school health and wellbeing staff, student support services staff and leading teachers.

The training will help staff understand risk factors associated with suicide and give them skills to identify and respond to secondary students who may be at increased risk of suicide and to better support these students.

The announcement coincides with the release of a new PwC Australia analysis commissioned by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation with funding from the Labor Government, which found almost a quarter of Victorian school students are bullied at some stage during their time in school with annual costs reaching $135 million.

The Economic Cost of Bullying in Australian Schools reveals that, each year, approximately 228,000 Victorian school students experience bullying, instigated by 136,000 bullies. The analysis estimates bullying costs $645 million to society for each school year group.

The Labor Government recently funded the rollout of the successful cyber-safety eSmart program to every school in the state, meaning almost 1 million students will benefit from it every year.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“Every child in every school deserves to be able to complete their education without being bullied and to also be supported when they are battling mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.”

“The Economic Cost of Bullying in Australian Schools report underlines the serious, far-reaching impacts of bullying for both the victims of bullying and our society as a whole.”

Quote attributable to headspace CEO Jason Trethowan 

“This partnership is an opportunity for headspace centres to work with the education sector for the benefit of all young people.”