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Early intervention crucial in mental health battle

Tasmanian Labor is again calling on the Liberal Government to recruit mental health workers to all Tasmanian state schools, saying they can no longer ignore the need for urgent action.

Shadow Health Minister Anita Dow will today move a Notice of Motion in Parliament, recognising this week as National Mental Health Week.

“We know that half of all lifelong mental health problems begin before the age of 14, and suicide continues to be a leading cause of death for young Australians,” Ms Dow said.

“One in 10 young people aged 12 to 17 will self-harm, one in 13 will seriously consider a suicide attempt and one in 40 will attempt suicide.

“As well, three out of five school-aged children in Tasmania identify mental health as a growing problem, and half of Australian kids with mental illness are not getting timely professional help.

“The average wait to see a school psychologist in Tasmania is four months for assessment and three weeks for intervention, with many students waiting significantly longer.

“With just 69 school psychologists employed across the entire state, that means there is just one psychologist for every 890 students enrolled and the staff to student ratio for social workers is one for 1,025.

“The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s report on her wellbeing consultations “We call it happy” identified the need for the education system to be more responsive to the needs of young Tasmanians, including improved and more available school-based support services, such as mental health, social work and counsellors.

“This early intervention is crucial to help deal with mental illness among our young people and to prevent it later in life.

“I urge this government to do better by our young people and recruit mental health workers to all Tasmanian state primary and secondary schools by July 2023.”

Anita Dow MP  
Shadow Minister for Health, Mental Health and Wellbeing

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