Comments on the National Children's Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

 

Mental Health Victoria welcomes the release of the final National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. We commend the Strategy's transformative vision for a comprehensive and integrated system of services that aim to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children.

The Strategy stands alongside other major mental health reforms launched over the past year, such as those promoted by the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health and the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.

This is an opportune time to coordinate these important initiatives for the health and wellbeing of the nation.

The timing is doubly important, when considered against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its significant mental health impacts on all Australians, including children.

While we welcome the Strategy as a whole, there are a number of gaps that we fear might limit its effectiveness.

In particular, we are concerned about the absence of specific actions regarding the wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ children. LQBTIQ+ issues were absent from the original draft, and reference to them is limited in the final Strategy.

To effectively meet the specific needs of this cohort, the Strategy should include specific actions for LGBTIQ+ issues.

We are also concerned that workforce projections and planning, as well as the need for diverse workforces (e.g. peer workers, psychosocial support workers), are not addressed more concretely.

A sufficiently sized, trained and diverse workforce is required to meet children's mental health and wellbeing needs, as it is for mental health and wellbeing more broadly.

The Strategy is a pivotal starting point for children’s mental health and wellbeing. A sustainable, coordinated implementation plan on state and federal levels is now needed to ensure it improves the lives of all Australian children, families and communities.

Importantly, the Federal Government must ensure important frameworks such as this are backed by proper investment. Only then can they achieve their vision and purpose.

 

The National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy can be read in full here.

Our detailed feedback on the Draft Strategy is available here.