Cumberland Council says it is working towards breaking down the barriers around youth mental health with the establishment of a Youth Mental Health Action Plan.
Council hosted its first Youth Mental Health Summit on 28 February, which laid the foundations for a Youth Mental Health Action Plan and addressed concerns for young people.
Cumberland Mayor, Lisa Lake said Council is prioritising access to youth mental health support services and programs.
“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data, three quarters of Australians with mental health issues are under the age of 25,” said Mayor Lake.
“This summit provided an opportunity for young people, state and federal agencies and local service providers to come together and lay down the foundations for an action plan.”
Mayor Lake was joined by Federal MPs, Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Emma McBride; Federal Member for Reid, Sally Sitou and Federal Member for Parramatta, Dr Andrew Charlton at the summit, as well as State Members; Member for Auburn, Lynda Voltz and Member for Granville, Julia Finn. Not-for-profit agencies and other Cumberland Councillors were also in attendance.
Cumberland Councillor, Diane Colman provided a keynote speech calling for more advocacy around youth mental health resources.
“We need strategies for early detection and treatment. We also need promotion and prevention strategies. These strategies require an inter-connected approach where all levels of government are working with our community,” she said.
Assistant Minister for Mental Health, Emma McBride said the government was working on setting up youth advisory groups on youth mental health and well-being.
“Our intention is for young people to be heard, respected and make a meaningful contribution to the work of government. Our government is determined to help young people from all backgrounds to live healthy lives. This doesn’t just mean the absence of disease or mental ill-health but complete physical, mental and social well-being,” she said.
The summit also addressed concerns from young people themselves, with 12 students from Greystanes High School attending. The students identified gaps in services available to them as young people and outlined key programs including youth mental health first aid programs. The students gave real life examples of social pressures affecting their mental health and participated in workshops designed to inform the work of the sector.