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Mental health service gaps remain for WA children

The Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit says significant gaps still remain in mental health services for WA children and young people, particularly for those under the age of 12 years.

Mr Pettit said there had been a focus in the media recently highlighting how these gaps are contributing to tragic events in communities across WA.

“There needs to be greater recognition that lifelong positive mental health begins at pregnancy and there is an imperative to establish a strong foundation of positive mental health in childhood and early adolescence,” Mr Pettit said.

“Too many children and young people are not able to access sufficient support until they experience severe mental illness and it is clear younger children and their parents are also not currently given equal priority.”

The Commissioner said there had been limited progress on recommendations made in his 2015 report on the status of mental health services for children and young people, Our Children Can’t Wait.

“This report outlines a clear strategy for improving early intervention and services and I will be refocusing my advocacy to government to address the current shortfalls.

“This includes strengthening the capacity of schools to provide better access to mental health and wellbeing services for children and young people and their families, as this is one issue students from around WA consistently raise with me.”