Victorian Student Representative Council is encouraged by the recommendations outlined in the final report from Royal Commission into Mental Health and feels hopeful that the emphasis on informal and community support will extend to more robust mental health education and peer support for students in schools.
VicSRC’s Student Executive Advisory Committee has described the current mental health situation in Victoria as a crisis that needs an immediate response, and while students are excited by the report’s recommendations to restructure the mental health system to include specific age based service streams for children and young people, it is imperative that students are empowered to be active in their own mental health support and their peers. The targets of introducing thirteen Infant, Child and Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Services by the end of 2022 is fantastic to see but we are looking forward to working with the Minister for Education and Health to ensure that appropriate strength based supports for children and young people are in place in the interim.
VicSRC welcomes Recommendation 17 which supports social and emotional wellbeing in schools. Students in Victoria have regularly stated that their mental health is supported when schools prioritise wellbeing at school over academic achievement. VicSRC advises that long term anti-bullying and anti-stigma programs and initiatives that support cultural change at school are prioritised over single touch point activities.
VicSRC is also pleased to see specific mention of the complexities facing rural and regional students and welcomes Recommendation 39. Victorian rural students in particular have been clear about the challenges they face when accessing support for mental health and VicSRC is hopeful that this recommendation will also address these.
VicSRC look forward to discussing the recommendations with Minister Merlino in the next few weeks and how Victorian schools can be key to mental health support for children and young people through education and empowerment.