The Government is investing a further $47 million to support the mental wellbeing of young Australians. One in four young Aussies aged 16 to 24 experience mental illness in any given year.
It is a huge issue. The funding will go to headspace National to improve services at its centres across the country.
There will also be a new youth mental health ambassadors project and Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us with more now. Good morning to you minister. How will this funding help young people? In your portfolio you must just find this is a growing issue.
Well it’s immensely important and we have over half a million young people who are affected by mental health challenges each year, every year.
So this funding will go to ensuring that we have better training, better research, better outreach.
We have the Young Ambassadors Program; people such as Beau Vernon who is a quadriplegic, but has been the coach of the Leongatha and Phillip Island football teams - their senior teams and taking them to premierships in the last year, inspiring to give him and others around the country, such as Niharika Hiremath, a young woman of Indian background who’s been on her own journey through anxiety and depression.
So as they can be ambassadors, talk to young people about their experiences, give people a sense of hope, give them the ability to do this; that’s what this program is about – reaching out to young people around the country.
And minister, we hear the stats - one in four Aussies 16 to 24, but how serious is the problem of youth mental health in Australia? What’s your feedback from the agencies?
Well obviously, you’re absolutely right on the numbers - about one in four young people and we can overcome and defeat it, but we know that so many of the lifelong challenges begin in this age group of 16 to 24.
So addressing it early, giving people a sense of hope and giving them support and pathways is absolutely critical because if we can take young people through that process and give them a conclusion and give them the support, that means they have a much better chance of avoiding these mental health challenges throughout life and not having a chronic, lifelong problem.
It is such a great initiative. Minister, while we have you, just quickly, there are reports this morning that your department is concerned that people who access their super early for weight loss surgery, other health care services could be ripped off.
Are you looking at tightening these rules for people who access their super early for health reasons?
So what the chief medical officer wants to ensure is that when people have genuine and significant health needs, they are able to meet those, but that the superannuation isn’t being diverted by those who might seek to- take people’s superannuation for non-absolutely critical concerns.
So this is about critical concerns that can and should be addressed, but non-absolutely critical concerns have never been the intention of the early access to super program.
So, it’s taking care of people long term.
Sorry to jump in on you there, Health Minister Greg Hunt, we're out of time, but thank you very much for joining us this morning.
Pleasure. Take care.