Hub for free mental health help

A new mental health hub for kids is delivering free support in Sunshine.

State Mental Health Minister Ingrid Stitt and Federal Assistant Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Minister Emma McBride officially opened three Children’s Health and Wellbeing Locals in December.

“For too long families have struggled to access age-appropriate mental health and wellbeing services – these new Locals will ensure more children are given the support they need to help them thrive,” Ms Stitt said.

The services in Cranbourne, Sunshine, and Bendigo form part of the national Head to Health Kids network and will provide specialist support for children aged 0-11 years and their families, free of charge and with no referral required.

Support includes specialist medical and allied health services for children who are experiencing developmental, behavioural, and emotional challenges, including paediatricians, psychologists, and speech pathologists.

“Backing our youngest Victorians is critical, but so is supporting their parents – we know how tough it can be to juggle everyday life, especially when a child is struggling, which is why this under-one-roof model is so important,” Ms Stitt said.

Focused on strengthening support for parents, the Locals will also deliver family services, group parenting programs, and culturally safe wrap-around services.

Designed in consultation with local communities, people with lived experience, and local service providers, the services are tailored to local needs and build on existing services and capacity.

About 400 children and their families will use each of the three services each year as they scale up.

IPC Health operates the Sunshine Local with funding from the Victorian and Australian governments.

“It is crucial governments work together to support children and their families to access wellbeing and mental health support,” Ms McBride said.