The Andrews Labor Government is rolling out mental health professionals in Victorian government schools to give students the support they need and help reduce the number of young Victorians tragically taking their own life.

Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Southern Metro Region Philip Dalidakis visited Elwood College today to announce the first schools that will receive support under the Mental Health Practitioners in Schools initiative.

“As a parent, I know the dread you feel when you children tell you about kids at school hurting themselves or taking their own life – that’s why we’re giving students professional support when they need it most. We will implement every recommendation of the landmark Royal Commission and keep delivering practical support that Victorians need now.”

Premier Daniel Andrews

The $51.2 million program will start in 33 secondary schools in term 3 in Melbourne’s south east suburbs – from Albert Park College to Frankston High. In term 4, it will expand to 21 secondary school campuses in the state’s south west – from Geelong High School through to Colac Secondary College.

The program will employ more than 190 qualified mental health professionals across the state, including psychologists, social workers and mental health nurses.

“We know that when our kids are happy and well supported, they can focus on their learning and have the best opportunity to succeed in education and excel in life.”

Minister for Education James Merlino

The Mental Health Practitioners will offer counselling and early intervention services, as well as coordinating support for students with complex needs, linking in with broader allied community and health services.

Every government secondary school will receive between one and five days a week of support from a mental health practitioner depending on its size, requirements and existing welfare programs.

The Labor Government will also partner with the Orygen National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health to promote student wellbeing within secondary schools.

This program builds on the Labor Government’s $65.5 million investment in student health and wellbeing initiatives in all schools, including the Victorian Anti-Bullying and Mental Health Initiative, the School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support program, as well as increased investment in allied health and nursing services.

The Labor Government established a landmark Royal Commission into Mental Health and will implement every one of its recommendations – but it’s not waiting for that critical work to be done to get on with practical initiatives that support Victorians experiencing mental health problems.

“Too many young people experience mental health challenges. This will make it easier for people to access support they need, and stay happy and healthy.”

Member for Southern Metro Region, Philip Dalidakis MP