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New mental health program tells kids to just be you

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Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has launched a new school-based mental health initiative that aims to give teachers the tools to help students manage their mental health.

The Federal Government has invested $98.6 million.

The program Be You will be delivered by Beyond Blue – of which Ms Gillard is the chairwoman – in partnership with Headspace and Early Childhood Australia.

The program will be rolled-out by Beyond Blue in 6,000 schools and 2,000 early learning services in 2019.

Teachers and educators, including those still in training, will have access to free online courses and materials on mental health and suicide prevention.

The program will also be supported by more than 70 frontline staff from Early Childhood Australia and Headspace who will help schools and early learning services around the country implement the program, through online, telephone, and face to face consultations.

“Half of all lifelong mental health issues emerge before the age of 14,” Ms Gillard said.
“We have the opportunity to grow Australia’s most mentally healthy generation. It’s a big ambition and to achieve it we are asking everybody to get involved.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the program will provide Australian teachers with the skills and resources to be able to teach students how to manage their mental health and wellbeing, build resilience, and support the mental wellbeing of other students.
“It will ensure that students have all the support required for healthy social and emotional development,” Mr Hunt said.
Be You will teach educators to identify any students who may be experiencing mental health difficulties, and to work with the families and local services to get the right help early on. It will also help educators look after their own mental health.”
Education Minister Dan Tehan added that Be You builds on the strengths of current school-based mental health programs, and complements the recently launched Australian Student Wellbeing Framework.
“I encourage all Australian schools and early learning providers to engage with beyondblue and Be You to support the mental health and wellbeing of our students,” Mr Tehan said.

“As half of all mental health disorders in Australia emerge before the age of 14, schools and early learning services in Australia represent one of the best opportunities for mental health issues to be detected early and managed.

“Schools also play a vital role in prevention by helping our children and young people learn the skills they need to look after their own mental health and wellbeing.”

The Government is also providing $2.36 million over four years to the University of Queensland to evaluate the program. This will assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the program, and identify opportunities to strengthen or improve it.