Child mental health targeted
ADVOCATES for children’s mental health have launched a united front ahead of the election, kicking off a campaign to ensure children are not overlooked in the scramble for health funding.
The new Children’s Mental Health Coalition is calling on all political parties to boost mental health funding for the 0-12 age group and invest seriously in early intervention and prevention strategies.
The six-group coalition is also calling for the establishment of Kids Life Centres, to offer help and support to children with anxiety and behavioural problems, their parents and carers.
Coalition leader Professor Louise Newman, president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, said less than 9% of mental health funding was currently spent on children, despite the fact that 50% of mental illness started before the age of 14.
She called on the Government to increase funding for the early years to 15% of the mental health budget, and for mental health to comprise at least 12% of the overall health budget.
Coalition member Professor Beverley Raphael called for even greater investment, arguing for a quarter of mental health investment to be directed to the early years.
The calls focus on an even younger age group than that targeted by Australian of the Year, youth psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry, who has advocated strongly for greater investment in adolescent mental health services, such as headspace.
He supported the coalition but called for evidence-based models so that a detailed cost analysis could be performed before funding was allocated.
For more mental health coverage see mental health extra
Next week in Inside Story: the mental health of asylum seekers.