Australia’s mental health services will receive a $52m boost in an attempt to cut waiting times for desperate teenagers struggling with anxiety or depression.
The government has announced extra funding for the national youth mental health foundation Headspace, aimed at allowing it to employ more staff and provide 14,000 extra services at its 107 centres across the country.
A chunk of the money – $12.8m – will be allocated to offering online support to youngsters in rural and remote areas.
About one in four young Australians experience mental illnesses each year.
“We want young people to know they are not alone on their journey, and that we’re backing quality frontline support,” the prime minister said.
Earlier this month Morrison announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into the economic impact of mental illness.
The government was warned before the inquiry was set up that a lack of federal funding in mental health was a barrier to progress and suicide prevention, the Australian reports.
Headspace has been struggling to keep up with demand for its services as more and more young people reach out for assistance.
Its founder, the 2010 Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry, said the funding boost was “another brick in the wall”.
The extra dollars are on top of the $95.7m the government already spends on the centres each year.
The Headspace concept is being adopted in other countries, including Israel.
• Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78; Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636