More Victorian secondary school students in Macedon now have access to the school-based mental health support they need, thanks to the Victorian Government.

Today the Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas, met with Gisborne Secondary College’s dedicated Mental Health Practitioner, as well as Student Health and Wellbeing Leaders and student leaders to discuss the importance of Mental Health Week, and the Victorian Government Mental Health Practitioners in government secondary schools initiative.

While schools in the Loddon Mallee region, including Gisborne Secondary and Kyneton Secondary, received funding for school-based Mental Health Practitioners in Term 1 2020, in recognition of the increased mental health challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the roll-out across the rest of the state has been brought forward to be completed by the end of 2021.

The $51.2 million program, which began in July last year, provides funding to schools to recruit a mental health practitioner. It will see qualified mental health professionals in every government secondary school campus across the state, including psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and mental health nurses.

Mental health practitioners offer counselling and early intervention services, and coordinate support for students with complex needs, linking them with broader allied and community health services.

All government secondary schools will receive between one and five days a week of support from a mental health practitioner depending on its size and requirements.

This builds on the $65.5 million investment in student health and wellbeing initiatives in schools, including the Victorian Anti-Bullying and Mental Health Initiative, the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support program, as well as increased investment in allied health and nursing services.

All Victorian government school students, whether they are learning remotely or attending school on-site, have been able to access mental health and wellbeing support during the pandemic. Secondary school students can access counselling via a voice call or video conference through the headspace counselling partnership or via their school-based mental health practitioner.

Quotes attributable to Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas MP

“This year has been challenging for our young people, and we know that many of them are experiencing mental health challenges. The Mental Health Practitioners in schools program makes it easier for them to access the support they need, when they need it.”

“Mental Health is one of the biggest issues raised with me when I talk to young people, parents and carers across Macedon, which is why this initiative is so important.”

Quote attributable to Allison Hicks, Mental Health Practitioner at Gisborne Secondary College:

“It’s really important that we can help young people to move through this challenging time, and to help them build resilience – which is going to help them as they get older where we do come across unexpected situations.”