The Youth Affairs Council Victoria today welcomed the Victorian Labor Party’s commitment of $60 million to rebuild Orygen Youth Health’s Parkville facility.

The new facility will house the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health, as well as the Orygen Youth Health Clinical Program, a specialist public mental service run by Melbourne Health. It will provide support to up to 5,000 young people a year.

“Poor mental health accounts for two-thirds of the disease burden in young people,” commented YACVic CEO Georgie Ferrari. “And we know that three quarters of people who experience a mental health problem will develop it before the age of 25. We welcome this substantial commitment by Victorian Labor to a vital policy area.”

Last year YACVic asked over 200 Victorian youth service providers to nominate the most critical gaps in support for young people: after housing and homelessness, mental health came in third. And in Mission Australia’s 2013 survey of young Australians, young women voted mental health as the third most important issue facing the nation.

However, the youth peak body also urged that more support was needed for young people outside of clinical settings, in their own local communities.

“Many young people are anxious about seeking help from a doctor about a mental health problem,” Ms Ferrari noted. “And in some rural communities, the clinical services are just not there. We welcome Labor’s commitment to strengthen mental health community support services, and would hope to see a particular focus on underserviced areas.

“We also need to see more resources dedicated to generalist youth support. Experienced youth workers can intervene early to assist a young person at risk of a mental health problem who might be too intimated or uncertain to approach a clinical service alone.”

For further comment contact Georgie Ferrari on 0411 484 428.