Supporting the need for mental health reform Patchy funding, arcane eligibility criteria and wait lists are making an already tumultuous time even more difficult for people experiencing a serious mental health condition and few services in Victoria manage to deliver comprehensive and timely support. Over 55% of young people aged 15 – 21 accessing Youth Projects services have a mental health condition that can be easily treated with early intervention and support. Silos in funding and service delivery are weakening the overall effectiveness of mental health support in its current state. Youth Projects welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement to hold a Royal Commission into Mental Health. A whole of government, whole of community approach is what Victoria needs. We must understand that; Young people need more tailored, youth-specific services that will help de-stigmatise help seeking behaviour and improve engagement into treatment. Mental health first aid needs to be introduced as a valued component of education for primary and secondary schools in Victoria. Young people with high risk factors for mental illness are often early school leavers who need community-based, youth-friendly access to care. Homelessness is a risk factor for developing mental illness and mental illness is a risk factor for becoming homeless. Services should be better co-ordinated and genuine wrap-around models of care to effectively address co-occurring problems for young people – those such as substance misuse, unemployment, exposure to family violence, insecure housing and educational advancement. Parents, friends, and those in the frontline such as GPs feel frustrated, unsupported and lost in a system of confusing cross referral and inaction in times of mental health crisis Improved resources for prevention and crisis support. Prevention and crisis support services need to be complimentary, not competitive for funding. Reducing proven risk factors such as social isolation, chronic illness, homelessness and poverty are elements of the systemic change needed to improve mental health in our community. Prevention and crisis support services need to be complimentary, not competitive for funding. Youth Projects is calling for bipartisan support to address an issue that affects all Victorians, directly or indirectly, every day of the year. Mental health counselling is not an expense; it is a long-term investment in community well being. Talk to your local Member of Parliament, or running candidates, in the lead up to this year’s state election.