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By LACHLAN MOORHEAD

A NATION-WIDE mental health advocacy campaign was launched in the City of Casey on Saturday to coincide with another mental health forum held in the municipality.
The Australians for Mental Health campaign, which will focus on achieving a number of goals in the lead-up to and after the next federal election, was launched by Professor Patrick McGorry at the weekend’s Youth Mental Health Forum convened by Holt MP Anthony Byrne.
Prof McGorry, the executive director of Orygen Youth Health, was the keynote speaker two years ago at the community summit on suicide held at the City of Casey chambers, and covered by the ABC’s Four Corners.
Speaking to the roughly 200 guests who made their way to Village Cinemas in Fountain Gate for the forum, Mr McGorry outlined the objectives of the national campaign.
These include improved access to mental health care from a level of 40 per cent in 2008 to 80 per cent in 2020, and an increase in annual funding to 13 per cent of the total health budget by 2020.
“This is the biggest thing facing the world but we’re still struggling to get it properly on the agenda,” Mr McGorry, the 2010 Australian of the Year, said.
“It’s the biggest health issue affecting young people, 60 per cent of their health needs are related to mental ill-health yet the system of care has been weakest right at that point when its most needed.
“And what does it result in? It results in a type of lethal discrimination because people are dying 20 years prematurely because of suicide, because of untreated, unrecognised medical illnesses.”
The two-hour forum included a range of video presentations and speeches from various mental health representatives, including SEMML’s Greg Young, Monash Berwick Student Union president Dani Rothwell, youth mental health advocates Prerna Diksha and Alycia Kiehne, and Prof McGorry.
While Saturday’s forum was an opportunity to plan for the new campaign, Mr Byrne said it was also an opportunity to reflect on the developments made in mental health services provided to the local region.
Since 2012 a Headspace facility has been set up in Dandenong, and an Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) is also expected to be introduced at the Westfield Fountain Gate Shopping Centre by the end of the year.
“You’ve heard how we have made some progress here locally in providing mental health services and discussion about mental health and mental illness in the immediate Casey area. Many of those here today had a major hand in this,” Mr Byrne told the forum.
“Some of those people you have heard speak, some will speak later.
“Because of them in many ways these new facilities were and are being constructed. It was their courage, strength, initiative and belief that has made much of this happen.
“They raised their voice in anger and demanded it be heard – and it was.”
Those who need immediate assistance or need to talk to someone they can trust can visit beyondblue.org.au, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 257 or Lifeline on 131 119.

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