Regional Victorian students will soon have access to a suite of mental health tools to help them thrive in school and life.

The rollout of the state government’s $200 million Schools Mental Health program began on Monday, July 11. It features a range of tailored mental health supports for students implemented in all government schools across regional Victoria, with a full rollout by 2024 to all state schools.

The program delivers a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Mental Health – to support social and emotional wellbeing in schools, underpinned by an online evidence-based menu, enabling schools to select the mental health tools that best match the needs of each student.

Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins said the Schools Mental Health program ensures young people have access to the right tools to support their mental health and wellbeing.

“By investing in initiatives that put students’ health and wellbeing at the forefront with targeted support, we will help them reach their potential,” said Ms Hutchins.

In 2021, the state government provided schools with a framework, enabling them to start planning and selecting programs across three tiers of intervention.

Tier one provides positive mental health promotion, including initiatives such as mental health first aid, antibullying programs and therapy dogs that help create positive and inclusive environments across the school.

Tier two supports early intervention and specialised initiatives such as cross-cultural responsiveness training, art therapy or trauma-informed care.

Tier three targets individualised support such as additional mental health professionals for those experiencing mental health issues.

In addition to the $200 million Schools Mental Health program, the 2022/23 Victorian Budget is investing $41.3 million to sustain mental health services for schools, including the continuation of the LOOKOUT program and headspace initiative.

The Mental Health Practitioners initiative, ensuring students can access mental health support at all Victorian government secondary and specialist schools, will likewise be continued.

The government is also expanding the Mental Health in Primary Schools program to all government and low-fee non-government primary schools, enabling schools to employ a Mental Health and Wellbeing Leader and implement a whole-school approach to wellbeing.

Kangaroo Flat Primary School in Bendigo will be one of the first schools to receive funding under the Schools Mental Health program.

Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, said that regional Victoria schools will significantly benefit from the Schools Mental Health program.

“I have seen how Kangaroo Flat Primary School has supported its students’ mental health and know that along with other schools in and around Bendigo, they will be able to take advantage of the early rollout of this program in regional Victoria,” she said.