Families’ ask Government for more preventative mental health support for their children

Indigo Lemay-ConwaySound Telegraph
Teresa Henry is taking part in the 1000 flowers hoping to raise the funding towards preventative mental health support.
Camera IconTeresa Henry is taking part in the 1000 flowers hoping to raise the funding towards preventative mental health support. Credit: Picture: Indigo Lemay-Conway

Parents are calling for more preventative mental health support for young people, with claims the new State budget won’t do enough to keep children out of hospital.

The Western Australian Association for Mental Health has launched the 1000 Flowers Project.

The project will see 1000 stories from children and their families affected by the perceived lack of community support and prevention taken to Parliament House and presented to Mental Health Minister Stephen Dawson, pictured below, on October 12.

Association CEO Taryn Harvey said she welcomed the $129.9 million youth package announced last week, but said it needed to be focused on preventing mental health issues in the first place, rather than just treating those in crisis.

Ms Harvey said last year’s budget allocated less than one per cent to prevention, which was six times less than the Government’s own targets, and that she hoped this year prevention would get a larger share.

Rockingham grandmother Teresa Henry said she had spent many nights in the emergency department with her daughter and now granddaughter after multiple attempts to take their lives.

“The only support they get is the revolving door of the emergency department,” Ms Henry said.

“If more money was put into prevention and community support, there’s a good chance things might be different for my family now.”

Ms Henry said she hoped hearing “lived in experience” from the community would persuade the Government to increase funding for prevention.

Mandurah mother Amy Macdonald is also joining the 1000 Flowers Project. Ms MacDonald has had similar experiences, saying she spent 72 hours in an emergency ward with her son before anyone offered her any support.

Pamella Fink and Meron Savage outside Parliament — advocating for mental health funding after losing their children to suicide.
Camera IconPamella Fink and Meron Savage outside Parliament — advocating for mental health funding after losing their children to suicide. Credit: The West Australian

Pamella and Chris Fink have also been advocating for schools to have more mental health education since the loss of their son, Cohen, in 2019.

“What the 1000 Flowers Project is doing is exactly what we have been advocating towards for so long, more education about mental health and more support for people going through it,” Mrs Fink said.

“I just hope the Government can see how big of an issue this really is and do something about it.”

Health Minister Stephen Dawson said the State Government is delivering on its commitments to “better support people with mental health, alcohol and other drug issues.”

“My focus is to help build a contemporary, world-class mental health service for infants, children and adolescents, and the State Government is taking action to deliver improvements,” Mr Dawson said.

“Proof of this commitment is in the recent budget announcements, including a new $129.9 million youth mental health package that will see the government deliver another record investment into Health and Mental Health here in WA.

“Within the current mental health sector, for youth there are free and heavily subsidised services which are tailored for the individual needs of the community and its members.

“The MHC continues to work to further identify where the investment focus can achieve the best outcomes in mental health promotion and mental illness prevention working with Australian experts, the mental health prevention sector and consumers to identify those initiatives that are evidence-based.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help you can call:

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

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