Wednesday, 21 October 2020
Over the last couple of weeks, the 100 plus headspace centres across the country have been celebrating headspace Day. Since 2006, headspace has provided more than 3.6 million services and supported more than 626,000 Australians between the ages of 12 and 25. Everyone in this place knows the vital work headspace does. It provides holistic support for young people that includes clinical mental health professionals, judgement-free physical and sexual health advice from onsite GPs, alcohol and drug counsellors who can provide advice on available treatments, and work and study assistance from counsellors who can assist with managing the workloads of studying and job seeking. I want to acknowledge and thank the teams at headspace Fremantle and Osborne Park for the help and support they provide each year to the hundreds of young people from the Curtin community.
We all know that 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for our young people. A recent report by headspace, from August this year, which surveyed young people who were accessing their services between 25 May and 5 June, revealed that 74 per cent of participants had experienced a deterioration in their mental health since the outbreak of COVID-19.
For the past 14 years funding and support for headspace has been bipartisan, and rightly so. That is because we all understand that the mental health of Australians, especially young Australians, is a national priority. In recognition of this, the government is continuing to dramatically expand the headspace network and improve the capacity of headspace services. Over the next four years from 2020-21 the government is investing $630 million in the national headspace network. This includes $534 million for the establishment of new services and ongoing services delivery at existing sites and a further $96 million to address demand and reduce wait times to access headspace services.
But we all know supporting the mental health of our young people doesn't stop at headspace. We all have a role to play in this. That's why I was really pleased to join students at Nedlands Primary School last week for their inaugural Wellness Week. This coincided with Mental Health Week in WA. Students at Nedlands Primary were encouraged throughout Wellness Week to participate in activities which focused on their mental and physical health. It was wonderful to talk to the year 4 and year 6 student leaders who had taken a central role in planning the activities alongside the school's chaplain, Philly Lumby. The students at one point asked me about stress, and I admitted to them I was feeling a bit stressed at that time because I had something to do the next day that I hadn't prepared for. The kids taught me the five-finger breathing technique, which really worked. To the year 4 kids particularly, I say: thank you very much.
To any young person struggling at the moment and feeling flat, stressed, sad or lacking energy: I would urge you to seek help. By finding the right support and strategies, things can get better.