THE Government’s world-first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is being celebrated as a transformative step to improving child mental health.
The strategy provides a framework to guide the development of a comprehensive, integrated system of services to children aged 0-12 and their families.
UNICEF Australia’s director of Australian programs and child rights Nicole Breeze said the strategy is a ‘game changer’ for it being child-centred, prevention-focused, targeting early intervention and needs-based, not diagnosis driven.
“We know that more than 50 per cent of adult mental health manifests before the age of 14 so this is a much-needed reform to support young children,” she said.
“But we also recognise that the known mental health impacts of COVID-19 on children so far is only the tip of the iceberg – which makes the implementing of this strategy all the more urgent.”
National Mental Health Commission chair, CEO Lucy Brogden AO says the strategy is one of the most significant pieces of work done by the Commission.
“This strategy proposes a fundamental, cultural shift in the way we think about the mental health and wellbeing of our children, including a change in language and the adoption of a continuum-based model of mental health and wellbeing,” she said.
It includes $54.2 million to create new Head to Health Kids mental health and wellbeing centres for children up to 12 years, in partnership with the state and territory governments.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the strategy was part of the Morrison Government’s long-term national health plan.
“Caring for the mental health and wellbeing of our younger children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is critical,” he said.
“We know that proper support can improve long-term outcomes and can help children achieve their full potential in life.”