26 September 2023

Mental health plan prescribed for students

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ACT Health has collaborated with partner agencies to roll out a mental health program to Year 9 students in 2020.

The Youth Aware of Mental Health program (YAM) is a joint initiative between ACT Health, the Office of Mental Health and Wellbeing and ACT Education in partnership with the Black Dog Institute.

Announced by the Minister for Mental health, Shane Rattenbury the program targets 14 to 16-year-olds to build resilience, encourage help-seeking and equip them with the confidence to look after themselves and each other.

Mr Rattenbury said 70 per cent of mental illness and suicidal behaviours begin between the ages of 12 to 25 years.

“To support our young people through an often challenging stage of life, YAM will be rolled out to Year 9 students in high schools across the ACT next year,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“I encourage high schools throughout the ACT to be proactive and to take part in this valuable program, to support the mental health and wellbeing of our young people,” he said.

“YAM is a world-leading program that aims to empower young people to learn coping and problem-solving skills, gain knowledge about mental health and promote early intervention and help seeking behaviours.”

Mr Rattenbury said YAM had been shown to reduce suicide attempts and severe suicidal ideation, reduce depression and anxiety, and facilitate healthy lifestyle choices amongst young people in European trials.

He said the program was adapted by the Black Dog Institute for Australian school students and had since been delivered to over 11,000 students over the past two years as part of the NSW-based LifeSpan trial.

“Looking after your mental health, as well as your physical health are important skills that will continue to support young people, and their wellbeing, throughout their lives,” Mr Rattenbury said.

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