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New report more evidence that immediate change needed to better Victorian children mental health
New data today has painted a harrowing picture of the deteriorating mental health of young Victorians.
The Liberals and Nationals are again calling on the State Government to make simple, immediate changes that will unlock an extra 2000 mental health practitioners for public schools across the state. The call comes after the release of a new Murdoch Children's Research Institute study today which shows an increasing number of children are struggling with basic skills such as empathy, making friends, coping with change or disappointment, and identifying emotions.
Desperate families must be supported and the state government needs to ensure a mental health practitioner is made available to every Victorian student that needs one as a matter of urgency
Proposed changes to funding criteria
The Liberals and Nationals introduced a Private Member's Bill to Victorian Parliament last year that sought to unlock 2000 workers to help meet skyrocketing demand by recognising registered counsellors as mental health practitioners. Disappointingly, the move was blocked by Labor MPs, with the support of Independents. Not just once, but twice.
We've also proposed sensible changes to funding criteria to unlock an extra 2000 trainee psychologists to support the drained and fatigued mental health workforce after a demanding two years of pandemic pressures.
Delaying the roll out
The one-word change would mean people qualified as counsellors, who are currently ineligible to work as part of Victoria's mental health support in schools program, could apply for these jobs. It means schools that can't secure a psychiatrist or psychologist - a problem worse in smaller, more remote rural and regional communities - also can't engage their local mental health counsellor.
Labor has been sluggish to enhance mental health support for Victorian primary students, delaying rollout of the School Mental Health Fund in metropolitan areas until 2024 and taking the MCRI Mental Health in Primary Schools project to just 100 of more than 1200 Victorian primary schools.
Deserving the best
Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy said, "The shattered mental health of young Victorians is the biggest threat facing our state today. Our kids deserve the very best start in life and they cannot afford to wait any longer for more specialist support to help them come back from the disruption, isolation and uncertainty of the past two years.
"The mental health workforce is under intense pressure and in desperate need of more resources but Labor is all headline, and no deadline. The changes proposed by the Liberals and Nationals will ensure our kids have access to mental health support right now to recover from the devastating isolation of Labor's lockdowns. Not years down the track when the problems are worse." Ms Shing said.
Pictures from Victorian Department of Health Facebook page.
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