FLINDERS MP Greg Hunt says young people can “help build and maintain a healthy headspace” by talking and sharing ideas with family and friends.
“About 560,000 Australian children and adolescents are estimated to have a mental illness and one in four young Australians aged 16 to 24 experiences mental illness in any given year,” Mr Hunt, who is also the health minister, said.
“Young people need to look after their mental health and wellbeing on an ongoing basis, and headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation has released wellbeing kits, with seven tips for a healthy headspace.”
He said the federal government was committed to giving young people access to services to help reduce the duration and impact of mental illness.
This included $1.5 million towards Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Southern Youth Hub and $1.5 million for headspace “satellite services” at Hastings and Rosebud.
Kids Helpline says mental health issues and thoughts of suicide accounted for 59 per cent of all contacts made last year by children and young people.
Kids Helpline is 80 per cent financed by the yourtown Art Union, donations and corporate support. Federal and state governments contribute 20 per cent.
“Each year we see an increase in mental health, emotional well-being and suicide-related concerns, they now account for 59.2 per cent or 39,812 of all counselling contacts,” yourtown CEO Tracy Adams said “Our concern is that this may be just the tip of the iceberg as only a small percentage of kids actually seek help. We really need to encourage more help-seeking among children and young people, particularly among boys.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics data show that 458 people under 25 committed suicide in Australia last year; 22 of them were 14 or younger.
“What is particularly concerning is the rapid increase in the suicide rate for young people,” Ms Adams said. “Over the past 10 years the overall suicide rate has increased by approximately 13 per cent, but the suicide rate for young people aged 15 to 19 has increased by more than 70 per cent.
“Ten years ago, children and teenagers had the lowest suicide rate of any age group.”
National Mental Health Commission ABS data shows 600,000 Australian children aged four to 17 are affected by a mental health problem each year.
“One in four people aged 16 to 24 experiences some form of mental illness each year and three-quarters of all mental illness manifests in people under the age of 25,” Ms Adams says.
“But there’s still a lot of stigma and confusion around the topic, young people are feeling isolated, alienated and extremely sad, that’s where early intervention and accessing crucial help 24/7 with trained counsellors at no cost can help.”
Ms Adams said it was a positive sign that many young people were seeking help to manage mental health issues.