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PM commits further $50 million for youth mental health

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled an extra $51.8 million in funding for Headspace youth mental health centres across Australia

Giving hope to young people experiencing mental illness is at the heart of a funding boost for support centres across Australia, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison revealed the federal government will spend an additional $51.8 million on Headspace, which runs 107 youth mental health centres nationwide. The funds, which will be rolled out from this financial year, will help centres employ more staff.

About $12.8 million of this money will go towards Headspace’s online counselling and treatment programs. Morrison said Headspace is one of the most successful mental health initiatives in the country and would be instrumental in addressing the one in four young Australians who experience mental illness every year.

“Headspace isn’t just about getting counselling services. It’s everything from helping young people get a job to supporting their physical activity to improving their relationships,” Morrison told reporters. “It is dealing with the whole person.”

Morrison added that this funding boost is another example of the Coalition’s efforts to generate hope in young Australians: “Whether it’s getting them support on mental health or getting them into a job because we’re running a strong economy…this is about giving young Australians hope.”

The extra funds are on top of the $95.7 million the government already spends on the centres each year.

Headspace Chief Executive, Jason Trethowan, said the extra money will be used to strengthen existing services, rather than creating new ones. He adds that this funding will significantly improving the waiting time for services.

“We don’t want young people to be waiting any longer than we need to,” he said.

Mental health advocate, Professor Patrick McGorry, one of Headspace’s Founding Directors, stressed young lives depend on such support.

“Headspace saves lives. Headspace saves futures. It’s the main lever that we have in turning the tide on mental ill health in young people,” he said.

“Headspace is already strong, but it could do a lot more. We have a lot more work to do, and this is another brick in the wall.”

Labor has also embraced the funding windfall. But opposition mental health spokeswoman, Julie Collins, noted it comes after the Coalition threatened to reduce funding a few years ago.

“We’re glad the Liberals are no longer trying to cut Headspace,” she said.

People aged 12-25 seeking help for a mental health problem should contact headspace at www.headspace.org.au

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au

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