New survey data has revealed worsening mental health issues in schools, preschools, and TAFEs across the state.
The Australian Education Union’s (AEU) survey of members, which informed its submission to the Mental Health Royal Commission, indicated “significant” mental health issues and a fundamental lack of support and resources to meet the needs of students.
Meredith Peace, President of AEU Victoria Branch said that of “major concern” is that this burden is particularly felt in socio-economically disadvantaged communities and in regional and remote Victoria.
“The mental health system is hard to navigate for students and their families. Too many students simply do not have access to the health services they need, when they need them,” Peace said.
More than 70% of school principals across the state said that students did not have timely access to the services and support that they need.
“Wait times for access to services must be addressed,” Peace said.
“It is clear that mental health issues are having a significant impact on student learning achievement, with massive difficulties accessing support services and accessing timely services, for too many students.”
The survey found that almost 80% of staff surveyed say mental health issues are impacting student learning.
“Mental health issues can significantly affect a student’s short-term and long-term success. This data shows students who face disadvantage are most likely to need mental health support, and least likely to receive it,” Peace said.
“In addition, schools and preschools in small regional towns and remote areas have the greatest difficulty accessing appropriate mental health services.”
The AEU submission to the Royal Commission, calls for a full review of the current provision of student access to mental health services.
“We would also like to see a minimum service standard for students to be agreed and formalised in a Mental Health Service Access Guarantee, to ensure no students fall through the gaps,” Peace said.
“Minimum standards would mean health providers, government and schools, early childhood settings and TAFE are compelled to work together to make sure that students can access the support they need, when they need it.”