Youth mental health services prioritised in ACT Budget

Shane Rattenbury, MLA

The ACT Government will provide more support to young people with mental health concerns, funding programs for children, adolescents and young people in the upcoming ACT Budget.

The Government will provide $2.158 million of Expense funding over two years to establish an Assertive Outreach Program established for child and adolescent mental health community-based services, targeted at 12-18 year olds.

The program is for recovery-focused and community-based services to treat adolescents and children aged 12-18 years who are experiencing severe, high prevalence mental illness. It will specifically target vulnerable groups who may face barriers in accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) and other community-based mental health services.

The outreach program will be tasked with working collaboratively with other community service providers in the Territory and will provide advice on how to identify mental health concerns.

The upcoming ACT Budget will also support a new Project Officer to develop a contemporary, evidence-based and recovery-focused model of care for the delivery of integrated mental health services for young adults (18-25 years old).

10-20% of children and adolescents experience some form of mental disorder. Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness start before age 14.

Comments attributable to Minister for Mental Health Shane Rattenbury:

"Mental illness can be severe for anyone, but it can be particularly damaging for children and teenagers if left untreated. Adolescence is a particular vulnerable stage where young people are going through significant neurological development, and where mental illness can have a major impact.

“Around one third of Canberrans will need mental health care at some stage in their lives. As our population grows, our local services and facilities must expand to ensure that people can access the right care when they need it.

“The research is very clear that early intervention is critically important in reduce the impact of mental illness on a young person’s social, educational and vocational future, and there is a broader benefit for our community in reducing the personal and social burden of mental illness.

“Our intention for the program is to try avoid hospital admission or readmission where possible, providing a clear path to recovery for young people."

This follows the Government's recent Budget announcement of $22.8 million to establish 24-hour supported accommodation for people with complex mental health needs.