‘Boys to men’: additional funding for youth mental health

Shane Rattensbury, MLA

The ACT Government will provide $100,000 over two years to support a Menslink mental health support program for schoolboys aged 10 to 12 years.

Funding will be matched dollar for dollar by Menslink, a not-for-profit organisation that has been supporting young men in the Canberra region for more than 15 years with free counselling, volunteer mentoring and education programs.

Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury said that with half of all lifetime cases of mental illness beginning by age 14, early intervention and access to mental health support services is vital.

“We know that boys who have experienced family violence, trauma or peer relationship breakdowns may be at a greater risk of experiencing poor mental health. Working with young people and their families at the earliest possible opportunity can make a significant difference to their overall mental health,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“This funding means a full-time support person, or several part-time support persons, to assist young boys at risk to increase their coping and problem-solving skills. Boys who need extra clinical support or assistance from other services will then be connected with appropriate care providers,” Mr Rattenbury said.

10-12 year olds now represent more than 12 per cent of Menslink’s client base. The organisation has hired two additional staff to help meet this increased demand.

“Even in the short amount of time we have been providing free counselling, we have already seen very young lads who have suffered trauma through family violence, bullying, grief and loss,” Menslink CEO Martin Fisk said.

“These issues come out as anxiety and stress or as uncontrolled anger, or violence. Our service supports these young guys through the issues that are troubling and affecting them, and teaches them simple techniques they can use so their feelings don’t get out of control. The whole family then benefits, as do their classmates and teachers,” Mr Fisk said.