A new survey today detailing the declining mental health of young people after the pandemic has further highlighted the urgent need to rejuvenate Victoria’s fatigued mental health workforce.
The survey, conducted in February by research company Resolve Strategic, found a quarter of young Australians thought about suicide in the past two years.
The highest number of reports of anxiety and depression were recorded in young adults aged 16 to 24.
Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy has called for a targeted recruitment drive to boost Victoria’s mental health workforce after years of under-resourcing by State Labor.
“Parents are at their wits end knowing their children desperately need crisis support, only to be turned away from clinics or languish on a wait list for months until it’s almost too late to help,” Ms Kealy said.
“Whether you’re in secondary or tertiary education, a stable learning environment and time with friends is crucial to good mental health but these young people now find themselves scrambling to catch up after a draining six lockdowns.
“The State Labor Government pig-headedly refuses to listen to dozens of reports calling for immediate workforce reform.
“This includes more than half the recommendations in the Victorian Royal Commission’s interim report three years ago. The pandemic has only made workforce shortages worse.
“Only the Victorian Liberals and Nationals have a positive plan to unlock 2000 practitioners to deliver counselling in Victorian public schools and for the nation’s largest worker recruitment drive.”
The recruitment drive will see thousands of scholarships and relocation support packages offered to get more people into Victoria’s mental health system as soon as possible.
Ms Kealy said extra training places will also be made available for psychiatrists and psychologists so they can get to work helping vulnerable Victorians, sooner.
“The data tells us that Victorian emergency departments have been inundated with young people who have self-harmed or are experiencing suicidal ideation as a result of pandemic pressures,” Ms Kealy said.
“We have a responsibility to do more to support them before they reach crisis point.
“Key to this is making sure there’s enough psychologists, counsellors, GPs and mental health experts to deliver a boosted workforce that is properly resourced to recover and rebuild Victorians good mental health.”