Improving mental health from early childhood

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  Published on Tuesday, 01 August 2017

Improving mental health from early childhood

Library Home  >  Health, Wellbeing & Nutrition
  Published on Tuesday, 01 August 2017

A new program designed to improve the mental health of Australia's children from early childhood right through until the end of secondary school has been unveiled by the Federal Government.

Mental health support and advocacy group beyondblue will lead 'a transformation in the development of good mental health and wellbeing practices for all Australian children' according to a press release.

The initiative is being funded by a $52.7 million grant over two years and beyondblue started developing and designing the groundwork in July.

The initiative will be launched to early learning services, primary and secondary schools in partnership with Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace, in 2018.

With research showing one in seven Australian children has had a mental health disorder in the past 12 months outgoing beyondblue Chairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC described the program as a game-changer that would replace the current fragmented approach with a wholly integrated one.

"Our vision is to create resilient early childhood and school communities where every child, adolescent, principal, teacher, worker, parent and guardian can achieve their best mental health," Mr Kennett said.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the program would deal with a full range of issues from educating staff about mental health and how to protect themselves, to supporting schools to implement their own strategies for mental health, wellbeing, suicide prevention and crisis support."

"We will build on the best bits of existing Commonwealth programs, but give early childhood services and school communities a contemporary program that reflects the world in which they operate," she said.

beyondblue will work with Early Childhood Australia (ECA) to deliver the program in the early years sector and headspace for school-aged children.

ECA chief executive Samantha Page said it was critical to involve early learning in the program as it provides a window of opportunity for early intervention and prevention.

"Early childhood is when social skills, emotional skills and cognitive skills are developing, laying the foundations for mental health and wellbeing," Ms Page said.

"This, in turn, influences a child’s ability to make successful life transitions, and to learn and progress at school."

Jason Trethowan, CEO of headspace said the new program would help improve student understanding of mental health and continue to support school communities impacted by youth suicide.

"Supporting schools to build the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people is crucial to stem the rising tide of mental health difficulties facing young Australians," Mr Trethowan said.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 22 October 2020