MENTAL health is a key reason why students are seeking help from doctors in secondary schools.
It is understood almost 40 per cent of the drivers of student visits through a program supporting GPs to provide services in selected government secondary schools can be attributed to mental health.
More programs are being rolled out to increase schools' access to mental health support.
An estimated one in seven Victorians between the ages of four and 17 have a mental health issue.
A Department of Education and Training spokesperson said the prevalence of mental health issues was higher in secondary schools.
It comes as the director of the school education program at the Grattan Institute, Dr Peter Goss, highlights the levels of academic disadvantage experienced by students with mental disorders.
He found mental health issues were comparable to some other significant forms of recognised disadvantage.
"For example, the average performance of students with ADHD is at about the same level as the average performance of students whose parents didn't finish school or are not in paid work," Dr Goss said.
"Having a mental disorder is more disadvantageous than being a non-Indigenous student in a very remote school, but still more advantageous than being Indigenous in any location."
His analysis builds on research by both the Telethon Kids Institute and Murdoch Children's Research Institute.
The Telethon Kids Institute's Young Mind Matters report found students with mental disorder recorded lower scores than peers with no mental disorder in every test domain and year level.
Academic disadvantage increased as students with a mental disorder progressed from Year 3 to Year 9.
Accessing support services resulted in improvements to their academic performance over time, but the Telethon Kids Institute found the gaps did not fully close.
The Royal Commission into Mental Health will have a focus on early intervention and prevention.
A consultation session is scheduled for May 17 in Bendigo.
Meanwhile, governments have been investing in initiatives to help address youth mental health issues.
This month's federal budget includes $263.3 million for headspace in the seven years from 2018-19, $152 million of which is intended to cut waiting times.
The budget also includes $461-million for a Youth Suicide Prevention Plan.
"The 2018-19 state budget provided $65.5 million in student health and wellbeing initiatives," a Department of Education and Training spokesperson said.
"This includes expanding access to mental health support for secondary schools students through Victorian headspace centres, including in Bendigo.
"This investment also includes an additional 50 Student Support Services Officers, including psychologists and social workers who work with both primary and secondary schools, as well as an additional 12 primary school nurses."
The Doctors in Secondary Schools program operates out of central Victorian schools such as Eaglehawk Secondary College, Weeroona College and Crusoe College.
The Victorian government announced a $51.2 million mental health in schools program in October, which aims to ensure mental health support is accessible to students at every government secondary school.
"More health professionals in schools will mean the kids who need extra help will get it and won't be left behind," Education Minister James Merlino said at the time.
Many schools also employ staff in student health and wellbeing positions using their school budget.
The City of Greater Bendigo's Youth Council has also identified mental health as a priority.
Youth councillor Billie Taylor said one of the biggest sources of pressure for young people was school.
A Youth Wellness Summit in Bendigo this week sought to give a number of Year 8 and 9 students a forum to share insights into the issues affecting young people's mental health and learn more about maintaining and improving their wellbeing.
About 80 students from about seven secondary schools attended.
"Young people are really inspired to help," Ms Taylor said.
She said it was important young people were able to talk about and explore their mental health.
School wellbeing teams and headspace were among the most accessible supports Ms Taylor identified for teens.
Potential barriers included lengthy waits for service.
Participants were surveyed about their concerns related to mental health, which would be used in a submission to the mental health royal commission.
Headspace, YO Bendigo and the YMCA were among the services supporting Thursday's summit at the La Trobe Art Institute.
The summit included speeches by What's Normal founder Laura Pintur and Project Rockit co-founder Lucy Thomas.
Activities were centred around the Five Ways to Wellbeing identified by Bendigo Community Health Services: Be active, connect, give, take notice and keep learning.
"We hope to just get them talking about how they're feeling," Ms Taylor said.
"Everyone I've spoken to does know a lot about it [mental health] already."
She said the summit aimed to encourage healthy habits, and to inspire participants to take the lessons learned back into their school communities.
Crusoe College year 9 student Reuben Agass said the day gave him greater exposure to the services available.
"If I want to look to these places, I can," he said.
He found the Project Rockit guest speech particularly insightful.
"You don't need to understand what people are going through, just try to support them," was the learning he took from the speech.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Kids Helpline is especially for people between the ages of 5 and 25 and can be reached at 1800 55 1800.
People aged 12 to 25 seeking help with mental health problems can also visit the headspace online support website or call 1800 650 890.
In an emergency, call 000.
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