Radio interview with Assistant Minister McBride and Richard Perno, LA FM - 22 April 2024

Read the transcript of Assistant Minister McBride's interview with Richard Perno on the Reopening of Launceston headspace; mental health.

The Hon Emma McBride MP
Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Assistant Minister Rural and Regional Health

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RICHARD PERNO, LA FM: The Assistant Minister for Health, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health. My goodness. Emma McBride, your plate is full, isn't it? 

EMMA MCBRIDE, ASSISTANT MINISTER: It's good to be with you this morning. 

RICHARD PERNO: And you, thank you for calling in. You know, you and I were just talking, weren't we? We were watching some footage coming out of Bondi yesterday when they gathered to try and get a grips of this. This is happening every day, isn't it, Emma? The mental health, we passed the stigma. We passed that- that barrier that says to those who suffer it, look, it's all right to come forward. Today, you're going to open the gates on a new headspace, correct? 

EMMA MCBRIDE: That's right. I'm so pleased to be back in Launceston. And as you mentioned, firstly, I'd like to give my thoughts to those in Bondi and it was to see the community come together in their grief and to mourn, I think, as Premier Chris Minns says, so important to come together at times like this. And we're seeing an increasing distress across the community, particularly amongst young people. And recent ABS data has suggested that young people aged 16 to 24 are experiencing the highest rates of mental ill health of all Australians, which is why the Government is investing in expanding and strengthening the headspace network. And I'm so pleased to be reopening headspace Launceston, which opened back in 2009 and with an expanded service at a new location today.

RICHARD PERNO: Now that says it all, doesn't it, Emma? You've moved location and you've expanded it. It's almost now necessary to have no walls because it's not going to stop, is it? 

EMMA MCBRIDE: And this is what we're trying to do. We know that young people are experiencing distress. This was happening before the COVID-19 pandemic. We'd seen an increase distress in young people and it's been accelerated through that. So what we are intending to do is to grow that network of headspaces. We've got 160 at the moment. We'll be growing that to 173, including an additional headspace on the eastern shores of Hobart, which will have an early psychosis unit, particularly helping those younger people earlier in life, because we know that early intervention can reduce the severity and the duration of mental ill health. 

RICHARD PERNO: No one has been past this building, headspace, without thinking, what is it? What goes on in this building in Launnie? 

EMMA MCBRIDE: So headspace offers four different services to young people. One of them is mental health support. And that might be talking therapy or other support for young people. They also offer associated physical health support, which is so important with our mental health, alcohol and other drug support. We know that dependency and addiction can impact many people. And also vocation support. We know that working and learning is so important to your overall mental health and wellbeing.


EMMA MCBRIDE: So headspace offers holistic wraparound support across those four key pillars, which makes such a difference to young people. And we know that young people in the regions have traditionally had less access to support. So having something closer to home that's free, where they don't need a referral or an appointment, makes such a difference to young people. 

RICHARD PERNO: So you can just call in?


RICHARD PERNO: Is that how it works? And Emma, there's a difficulty with kids who live in regional- and you’re Assistant Minister, especially in regional health, because they don't want to be- oh look at that. They're known and they get stigmatised and they get separated from the rest of the town, don't they? But you've got to break these down. This down. 

EMMA MCBRIDE: We do. And I think that there has been- a lot of stigma has been broken down in mental health. I first started working in mental health more than 20 years ago as a pharmacist working in acute adult inpatient services. And I think we have seen through a lot of public health campaigns, a big reduction in stigma, particularly for depression and anxiety. But I think stigma still does persist for the more complex and enduring mental health conditions. And it's something as a society that I know people are working to reduce.


EMMA MCBRIDE: But it still does persist. 

RICHARD PERNO: Well, if you live in a little village, everybody knows everybody. And the last thing you need to be is segregated from the rest of the crowd, because you suffer some sort of mental problem. 

EMMA MCBRIDE: And as part of that, we do offer e-headspace so that a young person in their own home or in a safe place can be able to go over the phone or online, and young people can access e-headspace at Or they can also phone 1-800-650-890 to be able to have a confidential, safe consultation over the phone or online, if that's their preference, because of their personal circumstances or because of the situation in their own community.

RICHARD PERNO: Emma, tell us why you decided to renovate and improve at Launceston? Is there an increase in those who use headspace, and that tells a story in itself, doesn't it?

EMMA MCBRIDE: There is, there is an increase in demand for headspace services right around the country. And particularly we've seen that in this part of Tasmania as well. We know that in just 2022-24 headspace Launceston has already had more than 5244 occasions of service to 726 young people. Importantly, that's including 373 new young people. So that's why we're strengthening and expanding the network of headspaces. And this year alone, the government is spending $290 million on that network of headspaces to strengthen existing headspaces like Launceston, to be able to increase- meet that demand and also to, set up new headspaces in communities which haven't been able to have them before.

RICHARD PERNO: And Emma, when you say young, we're talking about 16 year olds, are we?

EMMA MCBRIDE: So headspace caters to any young person aged 12 to 25…

RICHARD PERNO: [Interrupts] 12 years of age. What were you doing when you were 12? I know what I was doing with 12. I didn't worry about anything. I'd tadpole hunt and that was about it.

EMMA MCBRIDE: And this is the thing that we're seeing, we’re seeing mental health concerns emerge earlier in life, and be more severe. And that's why we're really having to strengthen Headspace so that it can meet that demand in younger people, and the changing complexity of the sort of reasons why they are coming to a headspace service.

RICHARD PERNO: That also puts into question about their relationships with even their parents, doesn't it, that they can't turn to them for help? They have to go to a neutral place like Headspace.

EMMA MCBRIDE: We still- headspace is a safe and welcoming place, and it's a place where any young person can go and get the wraparound support and care that they need.

RICHARD PERNO: No judgement either, no judgement.

EMMA MCBRIDE: That's right. And that's so important that someone can go there and know that they will be given the right kind of support and care, and also linked in with ongoing services if they might need them.

RICHARD PERNO: Yeah, and they're going to need them for the rest of their lives aren't they.

EMMA MCBRIDE: Well, with earlier intervention and the right kind of support and care some of these might resolve. And that's why it's so important to have these services for younger people. But some- we know that mental ill health is episodic and may impact people at different times in their life, which is why we're also working on adult services. And I had the chance to be able to be in Launceston to officially open the adult Head to Health service, which again is free, where someone can walk in without a referral or an appointment and get support and care. And that's open to any adult, aged 18 and over.

RICHARD PERNO: And Emma, the thing is that if we don't rescue them when they're 12 or 13 or 14, that we're in all sorts of strife, aren't we?

EMMA MCBRIDE: We are. And this is something that affects the individual, it affects households, it affects communities, and it also affects the economy. The Productivity Commission showed that the impact, in dollar terms, of chronic and enduring mental ill health in Australia. But we really need to address this because we need to make sure that every young Australian can get the support and care that they need close to home when they need it. And we know that when they're reaching out to headspace is when they're most vulnerable. So we need to make sure that we have, through expanded services like here in Launceston, the access to that care closer to home.

RICHARD PERNO: Your job's never going to end. You know that, don't you? You're always going to be needed.

EMMA MCBRIDE: Well, I think what really makes me feel optimistic is when I do visit these services, meeting the mental health workers in those communities. And I do want to acknowledge them - the mental health social workers, the occupational therapists, the First Nations health workers - the work that they do day to day with young people in Launceston and at the three other headspaces in Tasmania, genuinely makes a real difference. And I know they're working under strain, but we're trying to offer them the most support to be able to do their job effectively.

RICHARD PERNO: I’ll let you go and do yours today. The Honourable Emma McBride, who is the Assistant Minister for Mental Health Suicide Prevention. We've got to talk more about suicide, too, haven't we, Emma? Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health, you've got a huge task opening the newly renovated and upgraded headspace in Launceston. Good to see you. Thank you for calling. Bye.


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