Beating the back to school blues

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

As the second half of the school year kicks off, ACT Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury is encouraging students and young people to look after their mental health, with a reminder of the services available to them in Canberra.

“Tomorrow is Lifeline’s Stress Down Day, and it couldn’t come at a better time as students head back to school for the exams-end of the year,” Minister Rattenbury said.

“Pressure to perform at school, in sport and recreation, and in social groups can be a source of stress that can impact on mental health, and it’s important that students and their parents know where to seek help when they need it.

“Early access to mental health support can enable a shorter intervention, quicker recovery and lower impact on an individual.”

Minister Rattenbury encouraged students to observe the following wellbeing tips for maintaining mental health when heading back to school and throughout the year:

  • Reach out. Talk to family members, friends, and teachers about things that may be upsetting or stressful.
  • Look after yourself. Clear your mind by doing something fun, listen to music, read a book or going for a walk. Get enough rest and make healthy eating choices.
  • Be active and maintain your physical health. Exercise is good for the body and can positively impact on your social, emotional and overall wellbeing by helping to promote a relaxed state of mind and boosting self-esteem.
  • Seek help. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, feeling overwhelmed or experiencing an emotional or suicidal crises, remember that you’re not alone. There are many people and services that can offer help and support such as Lifeline, the Kids Helpline or your local GP.

“Supporting the mental health of young Canberrans is a priority for this government. We are stepping up our efforts to ensure those in need of support can access the right services, at the right time—from early intervention through to longer term recovery,” Minister Rattenbury said.             

The ACT’s healthcare system currently delivers mental health services to more than 10,325 clients through our acute and community-based programs every year.

The 2018-19 ACT Budget is growing frontline mental health services so that more people in our community can access the specialised care they need, including:

  • more community-based services for young Canberrans, including through Headspace;
  • a Menslink mental health support program for schoolboys aged 10 to 12 years;
  • an expanded Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Consultation and Liaison Service at Canberra Hospital, now providing services 7 days per week; and
  • the new Office for Mental Health, to coordinate a whole-of-government focus on mental health and deliver better care for Canberrans who need it.

The following crisis and information services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year:

  • Lifeline - 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800
  • ACT Mental Health Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team - 1800 629 354
  • Healthdirect Australia - 1800 022 222

A comprehensive list of local GPs and health services is available here: