Politics — 21 July 2017
Maroondah mayor Tony Dib, Eastern Health’s Lynne Allison, Jasmine Riley, headspace Knox’s Kate Graham, Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network chief executive Robin Whyte, Deakin federal Liberal MP Michael Sukkar, and Neami National’s Wendy Slinger. Picture: Steve Tanner

Maroondah mayor Tony Dib, Eastern Health’s Lynne Allison, Jasmine Riley, headspace Knox’s Kate Graham, Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network chief executive Robin Whyte, Deakin federal Liberal MP Michael Sukkar, and Neami National’s Wendy Slinger. Picture: Steve Tanner

MORE professionals will be employed to help the growing number of young people with mental health issues in Victoria.

It comes as one MP said the issue of mental health was “a tsunami coming towards us” that at times seemed “insurmountable”.

The Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network announced recently that $2.5 million worth of services, funded by the Federal Government, would allow extra frontline staff to support more people aged 12-24 with, or at risk of developing, a mental illness.

The network’s chief executive Robin Whyte said the aim was to create early access to services for young people in the community.

“It’s about catching young people early, giving them access to the services they need, in the right places at the right time, so we can prevent them from becoming more ill,” Ms Whyte said.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death (in Victoria) for 15-24 year olds; it’s a significant issue, so the earlier we can get in the better.”

The services will be delivered by Eastern Health and Neami National.

Eastern Health’s Lynne Allison said they would employ 10 new health professionals, including psychiatrists and social workers, for headspace centres in Knox, Greensborough and Hawthorn.

Neami National’s Wendy Slinger said they would employ five new staff, and would focus on outreach services.

Kate Graham, 23, who works at headspace Knox, welcomed the funding and said it was “well and truly needed”.

She said social media was a factor in the increasing number of youth who had mental health issues.

Deakin federal Liberal MP Michael Sukkar said the government wanted to do all it could to support young people with a mental illness.

“As a government we feel like mental health is a tsunami coming towards us and it almost feels insurmountable at times, but we have for successive years tried to put more resources in and assist organisations … to do the great work they do,” Mr Sukkar said.

 Eastern Health’s program will service Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges, with Austin Health delivering services on its behalf in Banyule and Nillumbik.

Neami National will deliver services in Whittlesea and southern parts of Mitchell and Murrindindi.

For help: Lifeline 13 11 14, lifeline.org.au; Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 26; beyondblue.org.au

This piece was first published on ‘Leader Community News’ July 17, 2017.

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