Think tank first steps for combined youth mental health approach

Lesley McKarney (Ballarat Community Health) at the youth mental health workers forum. Picture: Kate Healy

Lesley McKarney (Ballarat Community Health) at the youth mental health workers forum. Picture: Kate Healy

SCHOOL-based youth services expert Rosie Mullany says a collaborative think tank, gathering frontline youth mental health workers from across the region, was a great start.

A Ballarat Community Health forum sparked the process late last week. Ms Mullany, from BCH, said wide-ranging demographics and needs across the region meant it was vital approaches to such a complex issue be flexible. She said working together and sharing information and resources was a great step in the right direction.

“It is such a complex issue and the sector is driving it but we need someone to coordinate it all, like we’ve got here at Ballarat Community Health, or it doesn’t happen,” Ms Mullany said.

“Everyone in the (forum) room comes from a slightly different perspective. Now we have an opportunity to go away and think about it.”

The BCH forum pulled together specialists from prevention and early intervention to those working with young people who have a mental illness.

Ms Mullany said part of the complication was each organisation and service tended to oversee slightly different boundaries.

BCH’s industry youth mental health forum featured VicHealth’s mental well-being manager Irene Verins for a broader picture. 

This comes as young Victorians from across the state gathered with researchers, advocates and policy makers on Monday to explore likely well-being impacts on young people over the next 20 years. This included what was being done to support them, and what skills young people want and need to stay mentally well.

The YMCA Youth Summit was in partnership with VicHealth in a bid to take a closer look at generational differences and modern pressures on young people in a bid to form solutions.

According to VicHealth and CSIRO research young people will have to cope with different challenges to what their parents faced, such as the rise of automation, an increasingly insecure and unstable job market and over exposure to online content. 

YMCA advocacy manager Ari Kurzeme said the mental health and future of young Victorians was a topic we all need to discuss.

Mr Kurzeme said having young people guide conversations was the key and we need to ensure government, schools and workplaces were doing all they could to build resilient young people.

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