Mental Health Advocacy

Facts and Figures

  • 38,488 people aged 12-25 years live in Whitehorse
  • 1.1 allied health services per 1,000 people in Whitehorse
  • 2,200 young people accessed Council’s Youth ConneXion’s services last year
  • 3,148 services provided and 769 young people accessed the average Victorian headspace last financial year
  • 75% of mental illness emerges before the age of 25

Bridging the mental health services gap

Mental health services in the region are under significant strain, exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic. Whitehorse urgently needs funding for mental health services, specifically a new satellite headspace facility in the municipality.

headspace is a recognised and trusted service that plays a crucial role in mental health support and early intervention for people aged 12-25 years.

Demand greatly exceeds capacity at existing headspace services in Hawthorn and Knox, leaving extremely vulnerable young people on long waiting lists to get support.

Even travelling relatively small distances to services is a barrier for many young people with mental health issues.

A headspace for Whitehorse would improve access to mental health support for local young people, reduce wait times for support and improve health outcomes for our young people.

The longer mental health issues are left untreated and unsupported, the worse they get and the harder it becomes to address them.

What we need

  • The Commonwealth Government Department of Health to work with Whitehorse City Council and local health service providers to establish a headspace service in Box Hill
  • The Victorian Government to fund and resource a range of prevention strategies to address social determinants of mental wellbeing and promote awareness, develop confidence and build individual and community resilience, so that our young people are given the best possible start in life
  • The Victorian Government to resource a broad range of community-based mental health supports, such as in schools and sports

Young people’s access to mental health services

Young people tell us that a readily accessible mental health service designed for them is needed in Whitehorse. A local satellite headspace will enable young people to get the support they need for mental health conditions including depression and anxiety.

Studies and statistics paint a picture that stress, depression and anxiety affect significant numbers of youth across the country and Whitehorse is no exception. The pandemic’s wide-reaching disruption to the education, work and social lives of young people has highlighted the need for mental health services close to home.

The mental health impacts of the pandemic will continue to emerge for many years to come. We urgently need more services now to prepare for this.

Establishing a satellite headspace facility in Whitehorse will greatly benefit young people, their families, and the broader community, in both the short term and the long term.

Facts and figures

Young people in inner east Melbourne have higher than average psychological distress yet access to mental health help is below average where needed.

The proportion of Victorian adults who experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress significantly increased from 18.1 per cent in 2019 to 23.4 per cent in 2020[i].  This was significantly higher in the younger age groups: 35.0 per cent of adults aged 18-24 years and 27.8 per cent of adults aged 25-34 years.  In Whitehorse, the percentage of adults who experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress was higher than the State average, at 24.1 per cent.

Gender differences are evident: in 2017 in Whitehorse, 20.6 per cent of people had experienced anxiety or depression and of these 23.6 per cent were female and 17.2 per cent were male[ii]. LGBT people are between 3.5 and 14 times more likely to attempt and die by suicide compared to heterosexual people[iii].

There is a significant gap between the prevalence of mental illness and the uptake of mental health services in every age group, with the majority of people not accessing professional help.

While we do not have equivalent figures for young people, in Whitehorse the percentage of females and males who sought professional help for a mental health problem over a 12 month period (2016-2017) was 11.2 per cent and 12.5 per cent respectively.

The Victorian Student Health and Wellbeing Survey (2018) administered by the Department of Training and Education found that, in comparison to the Victorian average, the Inner East Melbourne region (which Whitehorse is a part of) recorded a higher proportion of young people with the highest level of psychological distress, yet a lower a proportion of young people who access mental health services where needed.

Indicator Inner East Victoria
Proportion of young people with the highest level of psychological distress 22.4% 20.4%
Proportion of young people who access mental health services where needed 35.4% 37.8%

Indicators from the 2018 Victorian Student Health and Wellbeing Survey for Years 5, 8, 11

Suicide is the leading cause of death among Australians aged 15-24 years. In 2020, deaths by suicide represented 31% of all deaths in young people aged 15-17 years and 39% of all deaths in those aged 18-24 years.

According to Kids Helpline, emergency interventions to protect young people in Victoria from suicide and child abuse increased by 184 per cent over the period December 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021.  Forty-four per cent of Victorian interventions were responding to a young person’s immediate intent to suicide, while child abuse emergencies triggered 31 per cent[iv].

There have been stark differences between the experiences of young people aged 18–35 years when compared to the Victorian population overall in relation to the pandemic, with young people amongst those in the community experiencing the most significant health and wellbeing impacts[v].


[i] Victorian Government (2021). Victorian Population Health Survey 2020. Department of Health and Human Services

[ii] Victorian Government (2019). Victorian Population Health Survey 2017.

[iii] Suicide Prevention Australia Position Statement (2009). Suicide and self-harm among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities, 2009.

[iv] NCA NewsWire , Kids Helpline found that Victorian teens’ suicide attempts have increased by 184% in the last six months, 8 June 2021

[v] VicHealth Coronavirus Victorian Wellbeing Impact Study: Follow-up survey (2020), Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne