What is youth mental health?

Mental health is “a state of well-being in which we are able to develop our unique potential, cope with the stressors of life, work productively and fruitfully, build strong and positive relationships with others, and make a contribution to our community” (World Health Organisation). 

It includes ‘good’ mental health (being healthy and coping) through to ‘poor’ mental health or experiencing ‘mental illness’. Many of us move between healthy and poor mental health through our lives.

Mental health is impacted by our genetics and how we behave, but it is also strongly influenced by our culture, community and environment. Adolescence and young adulthood (defined as 10 - 24 years in this project) is a period of big change with a range of physical, social, emotional and academic challenges and pressures. It is a time when young people are establishing their identities, seeking greater independence, and transitioning into adulthood. 

When you have strong mental health, you are happier and you can develop good skills that help you as you get older. When you are healthier you can also be a more active community member now and in the future. 

What is a youth mental health strategy?

A youth mental health strategy is a document that Council and the community develop together to help support young people, and their friends and families, to manage their mental health and wellbeing. 

Good health and wellbeing is a result of our whole community working together, such as families, schools, public transport, and health services, and this strategy will focus on a preventative and holistic approach across the Wallan community. It will include key priorities in the areas of access to services, youth mental health, youth justice, youth employment, alcohol and other drugs, education and referral pathways.


Why does Wallan need a youth mental health strategy?

Mental ill health is a big issue in Mitchell Shire and our community. Wallan is experiencing particular pressure, with the highest number and projected population growth of young people in the municipality.

The aim of the strategy is to understand the issues, and plans to meet the needs of young people in the Wallan community now and into the future. The strategy will have a positive impact on young people in the local area, identifying service gaps and needs in the areas of mental health, alcohol and other drugs, education

What was identified in the Key Issues Report?

The Key Issues Report provides a review of relevant literature and local context to identify key issues and opportunities relevant to youth mental health in Wallan, including:
  • analysis of local demographic trends and forecasts;
  • review of relevant literature and policy;
  • mapping of the current youth mental health ecosystem in Wallan; and
  • identification of key issues and opportunities for youth mental health.
The key issues identified are:

Key Issue 1: Poor mental health among youth in Wallan
The foremost issue, and the impetus for this project, is the poor state of mental health among young people in Wallan at present. This has been made apparent through a number of Council studies and plans. 

Key Issue 2: Service Gaps
There are currently significant service gaps in Wallan. Some key gaps are:
  • There are more social support options for young people in Wallan than professional care offerings.
  • Young people may have to travel long distances for specialised services or for more Council youth services.
  • There are few indoor, informal spaces outside school and the home for youth to socialise.
Key Issue 3: Barriers to services
Even where services are available, young people face unique challenges in accessing high quality and collaborative youth services. Access to existing services remains a major challenge where high rates of disadvantage and geographical isolation are experienced. Major challenges and barriers include: stigma, travel and access, cost, lack of service capacity, and lack of awareness of existing services.

How are you collecting feedback during this stage?

The project team is collecting feedback in different ways between 8 July and 16 August:

Young people

  • The project team is collecting stories and ideas from young people with lived experience of mental illness through individual conversations
  • Partner organisations who support young people are collecting feedback from their clients

Organisations

  • We are hosting a number of small discussion groups and conversations with organisations who are involved with and impacted by young people with mental health issues.

General community

  • This project page is collecting feedback from the community through an online survey.

All the feedback will be collated and synthesised to provide guidance for the draft Healthy Minds strategy.