In a first for NSW, every public high school will have two dedicated experts to ensure students have access to vital mental health and wellbeing support.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian today announced that the $88 million investment will ensure every public high school student in the State has access to a highly-qualified mental health professional they can confidentially speak to, as well as greater support for bullying, anxiety, stress, and any other difficult issues they may face at school.
“This will make it easy for young people to access help when they’re going through a tough time and also give teachers the support to deal with challenges faced by students,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“We know from teachers and principals – and the students themselves – what an impact this has on reducing stress and improving academic performance, as well as how much the students embrace the extra support.”
Up to 100 additional full-time school counsellors or psychologists, as well as 350 student support officers, will be employed across NSW public high schools. Importantly, these experts will have the ability to refer students who require greater assistance to mental health services.
Education Minister Rob Stokes said the program will help normalise speaking up and seeking help when it comes to mental health, as well as train teachers to be able to have these conversations with students and their families.
“It is critical that parents, teachers and students know there is always someone they can turn to for support,” Mr Stokes said.
“We’ll also partner with mental health organisations to bring their expertise and experience to school communities.”
Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies said about 14 per cent of children between four and 17 years old experience a mental illness – and this figure is expected to rise.
“If issues are not addressed quickly and at a young age they can develop into lifelong problems,” Mrs Davies said.
“Getting help early can prevent young people from falling into crisis and also avoid longer term interventions as an adult. Schools play a critical role in getting this support to young people sooner.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro visited Griffith High School today to talk with students and teachers about how the boost will help in regional NSW.
“By offering mental health support in schools, we can identify kids who need help early, and make sure they’re looked after.
“With the ice epidemic and youth suicide major issues in regional NSW it is important that our kids have access to life-saving support services no matter where they live.”
Since elected, the NSW Government has increased funding for student wellbeing by more than $200 million, with an additional 236 school counselling positions funded over the past three years, bringing the total full-time counselling positions to 1081.