An estimated one in five people aged 14 to 24 has a mental
health problem but is falling through the cracks of a system that
is not geared to help them.
One of the main tasks of a planned youth mental health
foundation will be to encourage early intervention and
To be set up by the Federal Government, it will supply
information to treatment providers and community organisations that
might spot people in difficulty. It will draw together health and
other professionals to deliver mental health services.
This year's budget announced $69 million for youth mental
health. Christopher Pyne, parliamentary secretary for health,
yesterday unveiled details on how the money will be used.
The Government will invite tenders for framing "one of the most
ambitious and important projects in the mental health sector since
the development of (the national depression initiative)
beyondblue," Mr Pyne said.
He said it was vital to "raise the mental health literacy" of
young people. "Beginning to teach young people the language of
mental health is the key to breaking down the extra stigma attached
to suffering from a disorder at an early age," he said.
The biggest obstacle to helping them was that they did not seek
treatment when something was wrong. The foundation will seek views
from young people on how to encourage this.
Mr Pyne said mental health problems in older people were often
picked up when they went to doctors with other illnesses. But young
people did not see GPs as often.
"If you don't address mental health issues when a person is
young, it becomes a matter of managing them for the rest of that
person's life," he said.
"If you address them when they are young, you can mostly nip
them in the bud and give people the chance of a normal life. Early
intervention is the key to success in mental health."
Professor Ian Hickie, clinical adviser to beyondblue and
director of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute, said
reaching young people was vital.
He said they often recognised they had problems "but they are
sceptical about the health services on offer".