The Australian government will spend an extra 51.8 million Australian dollars ($37 million or Rs 271.5 crore) towards supporting young people with mental health problems. The funding will go to Headspace, a government youth group that runs 107 centres in Australia, according to a statement.
The announcement comes a week ahead of a crucial bye-election for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ruling Liberal-National coalition. “I want to ensure we give hope to young people… who are struggling with mental health,” said Morrison, according to Reuters.
The funds will add to the 95.7 million Australian dollars (Rs 501.6 crore) the centres receive from the government each year. A majority of the funding announced on Sunday will go towards services and adding staff, with around 12.8 million Australian dollars (Rs 67 crore) earmarked for online counselling and treatment programs.
“Headspace isn’t just about getting counselling services,” Morrison, according to SBS News. “It’s everything from helping young people get a job to supporting their physical activity to improving their relationships. It’s dealing with the whole person.”
Headspace Chief Executive Officer Jason Trethowan said the new funds will be used to strengthen existing services, rather than create new ones. “We don’t want young people to be waiting any longer than we need to,” he said.