Mental health program caters to children as young as three
A new mental health program will be rolled out across the nation next year and will target children from as young as three years old.
The program is being launched in response to startling figures which show one in seven Australian children had a mental health disorder in the past 12 months.
It’s part of a $73M federal government package and will see beyondblue
and Headspace run programs for pre-schoolers to teens.
Beyondblue chairman Jeff Kennett described the program as a game-changer that would replace the current fragmented approach with an integrated one.
“Our vision is to create resilient early childhood and school communities where every child, adolescent, principal, teacher, worker, parent and guardian can achieve their best mental health,” Mr Kennett said.
Early Childhood Australia
(ECA) will work with beyondblue as well as delivery partners, which will benefit children directly through their industry skills and experience.
ECA chief executive Samantha Page said it was critical to involve early learning in the program as it provided a window of opportunity for early intervention and prevention.
“Early childhood is when social skills, emotional skills and cognitive skills are developing, laying the foundations for mental health and wellbeing,” Ms Page said.
“This, in turn, influences a child’s ability to make successful life transitions, and to learn and progress at school.”
The program recognises that people of all ages can be affected by mental health issues and that working in the early years to help prevent anxiety and depression can be effective.
teacher Janis McDermott, said she was looking forward to seeing the program’s impact at her centre.
“I place a lot of emphasis on emotion coaching with children in their kindergarten year, and it’s fantastic to see the recognition in this program of the role the early years play in lifelong learning,” Ms McDermott said.
“It recognises emotional health and wellbeing as a legitimate subject of learning that needs to be explicitly planned.
“Providing consistency in the way mental health is approached from early learning through to school will be a real benefit to children.”