The Labor Party has promised $5.5 million for youth mental health services in Macquarie, including $3.5 million to create a new, full-service headspace centre in Katoomba.
Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman made the announcement in Richmond yesterday (May 2) alongside Labor's assistant mental health spokeswoman, Senator Deborah O'Neill.
It includes $2 million for a headspace outreach service in the Hawkesbury.
The Coalition Government promised $1.5 million to establish a headspace service in Katoomba earlier in the election campaign.
"Youth mental health is a persistent and increasing concern in both the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury," said Ms Templeman.
"Parents, community members and young people themselves have raised with me the need for more youth mental health services.
"My own family's experience with the lack of mental health services for young people was the driving force behind running for Parliament.
"This investment in youth mental health services is something I have been fighting for, for nearly 10 years.
"At the moment there are no headspace services located in the Blue Mountains or Hawkesbury, meaning our young people need to get to Penrith or Bathurst to access a headspace service.
"The $3.5 million facility in Katoomba will make a huge difference to the way young people in the Blue Mountains access early intervention mental health services, with wrap-around services for them and their families.
"By creating a dedicated headspace centre in Katoomba, and an outreach service in the Hawkesbury, Labor will help ensure that when young people put their hand up, say they are not well and they need help, services are available and accessible.
"The headspace centre and outreach programs will also promote young peoples' wellbeing across mental health; physical health; work and study support; and alcohol and other drug services," said Ms Templeman.
Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, welcomed the announcement.
Lizz Reay, CEO of Wentworth Healthcare, said the provider was "passionate about improving the mental health of our local communities and are thrilled that both Katoomba and Hawkesbury will receive funding for headspace services to help address youth anxiety and depression, if Labor is elected".
"Together with the community we have been advocating for additional youth mental health services in our region for some time, particularly for the Hawkesbury, and we are pleased that our local member has listened to these concerns and taken action," she said.
"We know that mental health and suicide are complex issues that are influenced by a number of interacting psychological, social and cultural factors. Early intervention programs such as headspace are critical as they not only impact young people's lives in the present but can influence the whole community as these young people mature into adulthood," said Ms Reay.
Senator O'Neill said Labor acknowledges, values and respects the amazing and tireless work undertaken by youth mental health professionals.
"When a young person is experiencing mental ill health and they are attempting to seek help, there is a small window to intervene and help them and their loved ones," she said. "For many young people, these services are not easily accessible.
"Labor is proud to commit $5.5 million for these services which Susan Templeman has been fighting for since before she entered Parliament."
It is estimated that 28 per cent of children and young people aged 5-17 years living in the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury are at risk of, or are affected by mental illness this year. Of these, 66 per cent are estimated to require an individually tailored mental health service response.
* For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Other services include Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467, Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636, Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800, MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978