Young people appeared in the 74% of submissions made by organisations to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. The Royal Commission must now commit to working with young people to overhaul the system.

This is important because mental health issues overwhelmingly emerge before the age of 24. Half of all lifetime mental health disorders present by age 14 and three quarters present by age 24. Nearly three quarters of young Victorians place a strong value on their mental health.

Young people are the key to shaping a mental healthcare system which works for everyone.

A pie chart shows the % of submissions which did or did not include young people

Of the 359 submissions made by organisations to the Royal Commission, 267 specifically talked about the experiences of young people. This is a strong indicator that the Commission and the government needs to have a focus on young people in its work.

What did they say?

The most common themes and recommendations were about:

-          Access Issues

-          Youth Justice

-          Early Intervention

-          Out of Home Care

-          Regional and Rural Experiences

-          Stigma

-          Trauma

-          Youth Suicide   

-          Homelessness

-          Youth Involvement

Many organisations called for an increased focus on early intervention and prevention alongside making it easier for young people to access services.

Some submissions described the different barriers young people face when accessing mental health services while in the youth justice system, living in out of home care or experiencing homelessness.

Other submissions, including YACVic’s own, highlighted the barriers facing young people in rural and regional areas in accessing relevant mental health services, compounded by issues of access and stigma.

YACVic calls upon the Royal Commission to commit to working alongside young people to review and redesign Victoria’s mental healthcare system.

YACVic's 18 Mental Health co-designers pose with a love heart in a group

What happens next?

The interim report will be released to the public on 28 November. I hope that the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recognises that young people are living in an increasingly complicated and challenging world.

Young people in Australia are in the first generation to be worse off financially than the generation before. Fundamental challenges of housing affordability, finding meaningful work and climate change will affect young people the most.

Young people across the country recognise that mental health is the most important issue affecting them. Young people experiencing mental illness are the experts in their own lives and are uniquely positioned to understand how to improve services.

The Commission should commit to listening to the voices of young people and working together to reshape the mental healthcare system. A system that works better for young people, is a system that works better for everybody.

Sebastian Antoine is a young person from the Macedon Ranges who is YACVic’s Policy and Research Officer.