State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, has used a speech in Parliament this week to highlight the difficulty parents and families face in getting support for people under the age of 16 who are going through a mental health crisis.
Currently there is very little public assistance in the mental health space for people aged under 16.
The statistics from Beyond Blue paint a stark picture, with over 75 percent of mental health problems occurring before the age of 25 and half of all the mental health conditions experienced by our community at some point in their lives will have started by the age of 14.
One in seven young people aged between four and seventeen meet the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental health disorder in any given year and one in ten young people between 12 and 17 will self-harm and one in 13 will seriously consider a suicide attempt. One in 40 will attempt suicide.
These troubling statistics are made worse when you consider that young people are less likely than any other age group to seek professional help.
Ms Hornery told the story of a local grandfather who had struggled to get assistance for his 15 year old granddaughter.
“The statistics are frightening for any parent and are even more confronting when there is no help available to your child because of their age,” said Ms Hornery.
“Why is it that at age 16, as if by magic, a full range of services becomes instantly available and yet at 15 these services are beyond reach?
“The case study I raised paints the picture that our youth face in getting help. Something needs to be done because we are looking at a slow-motion disaster in the area of youth mental health.
“The young woman in question is currently receiving private psychiatric help, but it’s painfully clear that she needs much more than that.
“Her parents are being stretched to the limit and can barely afford the cost of this care. Of course, they won’t let the cost stop them. Like all parents, they will do everything they possibly can to help their child.
“When she turns 16, a whole range of services will become available for this young woman and her family.
“We know that many young people are struggling with their mental health. They face a number of barriers when trying to access that help and that recent events have only exacerbated these problems.
“I am asking the Minister to fix this broken system. Something needs to be done and I want to work towards better mental health services for children,” Ms Hornery said.