Release type: Joint Media Release

Date:

Supporting young Australians through COVID-19 lockdowns

Ministers:

The Hon Luke Howarth MP
Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services
The Hon David Coleman MP
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

The Australian Government is reminding the thousands of young Australians in COVID-19 lockdown or facing other restrictions that mental health support is available to help them.

The last 18 months have been some of the most challenging in Australia’s history and the impact is being felt right across Australia, with increased stress, anxiety and depression in the community.

This is particularly being felt by young Australians who have faced disruptions to their schooling and sporting activities and who have often been separated from their friends and loved ones such as grandparents.

Since the pandemic began, services such as Kids Helpline and the Butterfly Foundation report they have experienced an increase in calls from young people, with particular pressures experienced during lockdowns.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said the Government is profoundly committed to safeguarding the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians, who have been substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My message to young Australians is that you’re not alone,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.

“As we’ve responded to the COVID-19 threat on our physical health, we have also ensured mental health services are introduced or scaled up to support early intervention and vulnerable groups, like our youth.

“It’s important that young people who are having a hard time, facing increased stress or struggling to make it day-to-day, reach out for support. “Services such as Kids Helpline, the Butterfly Foundation, Beyond Blue and headspace have counsellors who talk to young people every day. They’re not there to judge – they’re there to listen, to talk, and to work with young people to come up with strategies that will help them cope.”

Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services Luke Howarth said it’s also important for parents, family and friends to check up on the young people they know and love, support them and point them to help if needed.

“Even before COVID, we knew that mental health is a key issue facing all young people. One in 4 young Australians experience a mental health issue each year and the sooner we can help them tackle mental health challenges, the sooner they can reach their full potential,” Assistant Minister Howarth said.

“We must be there for them, when we become aware that they do need our help. Reach out to young people at this difficult time and ask if they are ok.”

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has made available more than $500 million in funding direct supports to respond to the mental health impacts. This includes funding for a range of youth-focused organisations, such as Kids Helpline, headspace, the Black Dog Institute, and the Beyond Blue 24/7 Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service.

With the current outbreak in New South Wales, the Australian Government has worked with the New South Wales Government to fund a new $17.35 million ‘lockdown lifeline’ mental health package. Part of this investment is supporting young people through headspace, Kids Helpline and the Butterfly Foundation.

The Australian Government is also funding additional mental health support to young people in Victoria, with $3 million towards a surge workforce of clinicians in headspace services across the state.

In addition, yesterday the Australian Government announced a further $17.7 million to rapidly establish 10 Head to Health pop up mental health support sites for areas currently facing extended COVID-19 restrictions in and around Greater Sydney and to extend the operation of at least 12 clinics in Victoria until 30 June 2022.

The Australian Government also funds a range of free or low cost digital mental health services which offer phone and online counselling, treatment and crisis support, including suicide prevention and peer support. All can be accessed through the digital mental health gateway, Head to Health at www.headtohealth.gov.au.

Mental health support for young Australians

Mental health information for parents