FEDERAL MINISTER for Mental Health Mark Butler visited Bendigo yesterday to launch the much-anticipated headspace Bendigo.
Mr Butler made the headspace launch to coincide with the opening of Bendigo Youth Central – a vibrant new youth space in the heart of Bendigo.
Mr Butler described headspace, a youth mental health service for people aged between 12 and 25, as an extraordinary initiative.
The service will provide support in areas ranging from mental health issues, to drug and alcohol problems and physical health issues as well as provide social and vocational support, servicing the Bendigo region.
“From time to time, as I go around the country, I’m asked ‘why are we building specific mental health services for that age group?’” Mr Butler said.
“The response essentially is this – that all of our major health challenges, as a community, tend to focus on middle-age and above.
“That’s where most cardiovascular disease occur, most cancers, most arthritis, most other major health conditions we list as our major challenges in the country.
“But mental health is very different.
“We know about one in three Australians will experience mental health issues in their lives and that of all those people two thirds of them would have had that disorder before they were 21 years of age... So if you are serious about intervening early and helping young people with those issues to get back on the rails and start to build an independent life for themselves, you have to build the services that they feel comfortable attending.”
Mr Butler said one of the best things about attending headspace launches around the country was meeting young people like headspace Bendigo’s youth ambassador Megan Anderson.
Megan, 17, said mental health was one of the biggest issues facing young Australians and encouraged people to reach out for help.
Minister Butler also launched St Luke’s Bendigo Youth Central, which received $2 million funding under the federal Arts, Business and Community Centres for Young Australians initiative.
For more information about the national headspace program, see www.headspace.org.au