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Young People Need To Be Empowered To 'Be Resilient, Know How To Relax'

Children can be reached and shown mental health support before puberty.

24/02/2017 4:13 PM AEDT | Updated 24/02/2017 4:13 PM AEDT

More can be done to reach out to pre-pubescent youths to give them the tools to better manage their mental health, former NSW Governor Marie Bashir says.

Bahir -- the ambassador for this year's Mental Health Service awards, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and former public official -- said on Friday there is enormous pressure on Australia's youth to perform.

"In recent years there's been some efforts at destigmatising discussion about mental health," she told the ABC on Friday.

"On the other hand we have to admit we're a high achieving society... and being a high achiever comes at a price. Young people are constantly telling themselves 'I've got to do better, I've got to please my school, my parents, my society. This takes a toll.

"We've got to help them become resilient and know how to relax. That can start before the (puberty) years, so they're not made arrogant but at least have the ability to know they are doing their best and if they need any support, it's available."

The Federal Government is currently consulting over its fifth national mental health plan after the last one was criticised for concentrating on late-term-intervention rather than early intervention.

Earlier this month the national mental health commissioner Ian Hickie criticised Government funding for mental health as being "locked down in the dysfunctional hospital system" instead of being invested in community mental health services where it is most needed.

Expenditure on mental health services in Australia

  • Australia has spent about $8.5 billion, or $361 per person, on mental health-related services in Australia during 2014–15, up from $343 per person in 2010–11;
  • $5.2 billion was spent on state and territory specialised mental health services, an average annual real increase of 2.3 percent between 2010–11 and 2014–15.
  • Most of that was spent on public hospital services for admitted patients ($2.2 billion), followed by community mental health care services ($1.9 billion).
  • Expenditure on specialised mental health services in private hospitals was $433 million during 2014–15.
  • The Australian Government paid about $1.1 billion in benefits for Medicare-subsidised mental health‑related services in 2015–16, equating to 5.3 percent of all Medicare subsidies.

In 2014-15 it was estimated that Australia spent about $8.5 billion, or $361 per person on mental health-related services, an increase from $343 per person on 2011 figures.

"The trouble is so much of the money is locked down in our dysfunctional hospital system when the challenges for mental health in the 21st century are out in the community," Hickie is reported to have said at the time.

"What we need is a health minister for the 21st century that will progress the mental health system out of the 20th century."

Bashir said she accepted the ambassadorship for the Mental Health Service awards because it seeks to reward individuals and companies dedicated to making people feel better.

The MHS Awards are given to mental health services, programs and individuals in Australia and New Zealand who provide high quality services for people who have mental illnesses and their families.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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