Mental health services idea for Victorian schools surveyed

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Mental Health Victoria has warned that the Victorian opposition leader’s idea of ​​expanding mental health services in schools can only be realized if labor shortages are overcome.

Matthew Guy, the new Liberal leader in Victoria, has indicated that he would like young people to have better access to mental health professionals in schools.

This call for an increase in the provision of mental health assistance to young people comes as school and high school age children continue to study online in lockdown with limited opportunities to interact with friends and peers. .

Angus Clelland, chief executive of Mental Health Victoria, said his organization supports the concept in principle, but that there are barriers to achieving full coverage of schools due to the lack of qualified professionals.

“The main obstacle to the expansion of any public program is the shortage of mental health workers. There aren’t enough mental health nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and other professionals to go around, ”observed Clelland.

“This is a national problem that cannot be solved by Victoria alone. National action is needed so that major reforms, such as those recommended by the Royal Commission on the Victoria Mental Health System, can be implemented. with success.’

Clelland said there was already work being done to try to help young people and Mental Health Victoria was in talks with the relevant authorities to make sure this happens.

“We have had extensive discussions with the Ministry of Health on this emerging crisis and believe that one of the most practical ways to provide support to children and families in the short term is to mobilize the vast network of health organizations. community health and mental health in Victoria, in partnership with local communities ”.

Calls for better access to mental health assistance for young people are emerging the same day the Royal Women’s Hospital launches a mental health program to help Indigenous mothers-to-be.

The program was designed with input from female psychiatrists, specialist midwives and the Indigenous liaison team and can be delivered online and in person.

Dr Kristine Mercuri, a psychiatrist working at the Royal Women’s Hospital, said the program had a trauma-informed approach and the goal was to support Indigenous women who are more likely to have mental health issues and outcomes. poorer perinatal conditions.

“While specific research on the impacts of attachment trauma on Indigenous people is still in its infancy, we know that trauma needs to be a key health care consideration for Indigenous women, especially when providing new life in the world, ”said Mercuri.

“Having a baby can be difficult, and the pregnancy itself can be a trigger for women who have experienced attachment trauma themselves, where the bond with a parent has been disrupted. And it can impact the way they bond with their baby.

“We will work with groups of up to 20 women at a time to learn anchoring and mental state stabilization skills for a new baby. They will be able to form therapeutic alliances with other women, which is common in many prenatal group sessions. We believe this will give women participating in the program a great start to motherhood. “


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