Australia launches world-first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

Australia launches world-first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

by Freya Lucas

October 13, 2021

The Federal Government has launched the world’s first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which offers a framework to building a holistic range of supports for children aged from birth to twelve years, and their families.

 

Launched yesterday by Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt, the strategy will guide the development of a comprehensive, integrated system of services to maintain and support the mental health and wellbeing of children, and is part of the Government’s long-term national health plan.

 

“Caring for the mental health and wellbeing of our younger children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is critical,” Minister Hunt said. “We know that proper support can improve long-term outcomes and can help children achieve their full potential in life.” 

 

“To ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow up in a healthy and supportive environment that helps them, and their families and communities, to thrive, we need a mental health and wellbeing system that is well-designed, comprehensive, and nationally consistent.”

 

The strategy, he continued, will play a crucial role in ensuring that children and families are supported through coordinated investment and program development to ensure that children aged from birth to twelve years can have “all the opportunities for growth and development possible”.

 

To ensure this takes place the strategy outlines four focus areas for an effective system of care for children, namely: 

 

  1. Family and Community
  2. Service System
  3. Education Settings
  4. Evidence and Evaluation.

 

With half of all adult mental health challenges emerging before the age of 14, the Government hopes the new strategy will bring long lasting benefits for generations to come. 

“This is the first time a national government has developed a strategy that considers mental health and wellbeing of our children, as well as their families and communities who nurture them,” said Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman. 

The development of the Strategy was undertaken by the National Mental Health Commission, supported by an expert advisory group.

 

National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan said the strategy was “one of the most important, meaningful and significant pieces of work we have done at the Commission.” 

 

“This Strategy proposes a fundamental, cultural shift in the way we think about the mental health and wellbeing of our children, including a change in language and the adoption of a continuum-based model of mental health and wellbeing,” she added.

 

“We could not have done it without our advisory group led by our co-chairs, Professors Frank Oberklaid and Christel Middledorp, and I would like to thank them for their incredible work. Through them and others, we have engaged with hundreds of people who care deeply about the mental health and wellbeing of our children and understand the immense benefits that flow from protecting and nurturing it.”

 

The Strategy is available on the Commission’s website. A range of supporting documents, including a summary of the strategy, a stakeholder kit, and an at a glance review is available here

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