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Continuing lockdown impact on youth mental health contradicts Andrews Labor claims that post-COVID support programs not needed
Dire and ongoing impacts of lockdown on youth mental health exposed in another report today have raised more questions on Labor's claim post-COVID support programs are 'no longer required'.
The new report, from Mission Australia and Orygen, surveyed 20,000 young people at the height of lockdown in 2021 finding nearly half of Victorian 15 to 19-year-olds reported mental health problems as a result of COVID. It comes as the Andrews Labor government cut $60 million from mental health programs implemented through the pandemic, with the Mental Health Minister telling a parliamentary Committee last week they were 'no longer required'.
Ms Kealy said expert warnings of ongoing impacts of social isolation and uncertainty through the pandemic couldn't be ignored
Government turning its back
Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy said the government was turning its back on Victorians. "There's growing evidence the impact of six Labor lockdowns is still very much being felt, by all Victorians."
"Remote learning was devastating for the education and the emotional wellbeing of our kids. This report today reaffirms what we already know - that our kids are suffering and they still need dedicated support now, more than ever."
"But for nine months now the Andrews Government has refused to get behind changes proposed by the Liberals and Nationals to immediately unlock thousands of counsellors to provide extra mental health support in our public schools." Ms Kealy said.
The report warned of long-term impacts for young people who lost the opportunity for 'developmental milestones' because of the pandemic, 'such as a first job, moving out of home or first romantic relationships'.
Wrong timing from Labor
Parliament's pandemic committee hearings have heard from mental health advocates and practitioners. in recent weeks who have detailed increases in eating disorders, suicidal ideation and self-harm as a result of the pandemic.
Ms Kealy added, "Experts are telling us that the government must not shirk its responsibility to help our kids to recover from the social isolation and from two years of disrupted, lost learning."
"It's exactly the wrong time for the Andrews Labor government to carve $60 million from programs that were boosted to deal with the devastating mental toll of lockdown. If Daniel Andrews won't act, then only a change in government in November will deliver reforms to immediately unlock 4000 counsellors and provisional psychologists for the mental health workforce." Ms Kealy said.
Pictures from Emma Kealy for Lowan Facebook page.
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