Submission – To the Draft National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

Submission – To the Draft National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

In August 2019, The Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP announced that a National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy would be developed as a part of Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan. Mental Health Australia provided a submission in February 2020 on the content of the draft Strategy, developed by the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC).

Mental Health Australia supports the intent of the Strategy’s Wellbeing Continuum to shift away from a diagnosis-driven approach to instead focus on the child’s functioning. Unfortunately, the narrative of the Wellbeing Continuum does not appear to be well reflected in concrete Actions. The Strategy’s centrepiece, the proposed model of integrated child and family care, appears to be framed largely in a medical model, and neglects to leverage successful community and social programs and therefore does not address the social determinants of mental health. The danger here is a well intentioned policy, which unintentionally perpetuates the existing gaps in children’s mental health services. 

Mental Health Australia’s submission outlines a range of recommendations designed to strengthen the Strategy Actions to meet the current and future challenges of Australian children’s mental health and wellbeing. These recommendations will assist the NMHC to design a Strategy that influences governments to build the mental health system Australian children need: a comprehensive system of child and family supports, spanning the continuum from prevention and early intervention through to crisis responses and therapeutic interventions for those with established serious conditions.

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