MENTAL health services will be boosted early next year with the creation of a new headspace satellite program in Wangaratta.
Senator Bridget McKenzie announced $1.5 million in funding for the service on Sunday, and a further $1.2 million for another support program.
Senator McKenzie said statistics showed there was a strong need for headspace in Wangaratta.
“I know the city has been struggling in recent times with the impacts of suicide and the flow on effects both for individuals and families, and particularly the school community and the like,” she said.
“That is why, thanks to the community coming together and saying we need support to assist us to deal with the impacts of these issues, we’ve been able to put $1.5 million towards setting up a satellite service here in town.”
Headspace has a particular focus on young people, providing support to those aged 12 to 25.
The service targets early intervention.
Member for Indi Cathy McGowan welcomed the funding announcement.
“When we look at the statistics for mental health in north east Victoria, we found that there was a particular spike in Wangaratta,” she said.
“So if the numbers are calculated on per 100,000 of the population, the numbers in Wangaratta in suicide in particular were higher than other areas.
“So that showed me that we had a particular issue that needed to be addressed.”
Senator McKenzie said distance could sometimes be a barrier to people getting access to mental health treatment.
She said the new headspace service should be running in Wangaratta by early next year.
The Grit and Resilience project, which was developed in Wangaratta with Melbourne University, will receive $1.2 million over four years.
It provides similar support to headspace.
Statistics show one in five Australian adults will experience a mental illness at some point in their life.
Three quarters of those have their first episode before the age of 25.
It was estimated in 2015 that about 560,000 people aged four to 17 experienced a mental illness.
Wangaratta councillor Ashlee Fitzpatrick welcomed Sunday’s announcement.
“I think this issue is such a significant issue in Wangaratta, and it hits close to home this one for me,” she said.
“Our community has been significantly impacted by suicide over the past several years, and whilst there’s no clear answer, what we know is working together is absolutely vital.”