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Local youth mental health crisis

HAMILTON’S youth wellbeing services are in crisis mode, with a severe lack of inpatient mental health support options available for local students.

Demand for qualified support was particularly high following last year’s harsh and extended pandemic lockdowns, which brought mental health to the forefront for many kids who became isolated and were forced into home-schooling.

Aside from schools’ often limited wellbeing departments, students requiring mental health support were left to obtain a costly referral from a general practitioner in order to book an appointment with a local mental health practitioner.

However, many local councillors, psychologists, and psychiatrists have limited space and rarely offer youth specific services – online services are the only other alternative which are often inadequate due to safety and security concerns, with Hamilton struggling to even secure video consultations.

Southern Grampians Shire councillor, Helen Henry, who is leading the push for proper government funding and support for accessible youth mental health services, believed there were significant gaps in the mental health ecosystem that had been further exposed by COVID-19.

“It is unthinkable, that here in the Southern Grampians, we have been left during a pandemic without suitable youth mental health services when COVID-19 disproportionately affects young people’s mental health, education and employment opportunities,” she said.

“Without proper supports now, this virus will continue to have a ripple effect on young people for years to come.

“Additional funding and strategies are needed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our young Australians - that includes more age-appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services for our young people that is created in consultation with them about their specific needs, including face-to-face, online and outreach services.”

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