(Australian Associated Press)
Young Australians dealing with the early stages of psychosis will still be able to get help at more than a dozen support centres across the country, as a result of a $110 million federal government funding boost.
Headspace mental health centres in Brisbane, Darwin and Adelaide will be among 14 to get a share of the money, to keep an early psychosis program running.
The program supports young people who have begun experiencing psychosis or are at risk of experiencing the condition, which makes it difficult for people to distinguish what is real and what is not.
By preventing psychosis or dealing with it early, the program aims to reduce the incidence of the condition.
It usually emerges in adolescence, and can be triggered by mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression.
Amelia Free, 20, has suffered debilitating mental illness since she was 11 and credits Headspace with helping her take steps towards joining the workforce for the first time after missing much of her education due to her illness.
“I have had a lot of experience living in a hospital and being medicalised, I became a patient and I became my illness, and it wasn’t something I wanted to continue,” she told AAP on Wednesday.
“Headspace is more community-based and that’s what I thought I needed in my recovery – less intense focus on being unwell and more focus on getting out in the community and my future.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt says up to one in four young people aged 16 to 24 suffer mental illness each year.
“Over 500,000 people who are battling mental health challenges in their formative years … these can be for a period, they can be ongoing or they can be life-long challenges,” he said.
“Intervention early in life and at an early stage of illness can reduce the duration and impact of mental illness.”
The funding, set to be rolled out over two years, comes after the federal government announced $51.8 million in extra Headspace money for all of its 107 centres in October.
The one-off spend was aimed at helping the centres employ more staff and reduce waiting times, and is on top of the $95.7 million Headspace already receives each year.
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