Leading child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg has delivered a bleak outline of child mental health to the country’s Prime Minister in an open letter urging the PM to rethink funding and programs designed to deal with youth mental health.
Mr Carr-Gregg wrote that he and his child and adolescent psychologist colleagues were “more worried about our young people than ever before” in his blog-style open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull published by the Huffington Post Australia this week.
“I’ve never written to a Prime Minister before but am so worried about the number of young people I am seeing in my practice with anxiety, depression and substance abuse and I feel that, among the millions of things you have to do and are being told, this information may not be getting through to you.”
“… The latest ABS statistics tell us that the youth suicide rate for our boys is at its highest level in 10 years… every 18 hours in 2015, one young Australian male aged 15-29 died by suicide – a total of 488 lives lost that year.”
“…Suicide remains the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people than car accidents. So, in the supposedly lucky country, the mental health of our young people as the year draws to an end is worse than it was for their parents at the same age.”
He wrote that the release of two noteworthy reports this month “send shivers up my spine as they outline the prospect of an even bleaker future.”
One of the reports Mr Carr-Gregg was referring to was the annual Mission Australia Youth Survey which revealed mental health was the third national top issue worrying teens in Australia today.
Stress, school and study, and body image issues were the top three personal concerns of the more than 21,000 teens involved in the study.
“…Each year since the survey began, the proportion of young people indicating that they don’t have the skills, knowledge or strategies to deal with stress has increased.”
“Surely, this is a clarion call to parents and schools to do more in not just preparing young people for the economy but for life. There is a clear need for social and emotional competencies such as anger management, conflict resolution and problem solving to become part of the curriculum before it is too late,” he wrote.
He added the Australian Psychological Society’s Compass for Life Wellbeing Survey also painted a bleak future for today’s youth, writing the report revealed youth were continuing to struggle building resilience – a key trait to maintaining a mentally healthy life as an adolescent and beyond.