Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien has endorsed a proposal to have mental health education included in the school curriculum and reporting of mental health concerns, in a bid to curb the devastating toll of teen suicide.
At the recent LNP State Convention in Brisbane, Maryborough LNP member Lloyd Maddern moved a resolution calling on an incoming LNP State Government to include regular mental health education sessions for all staff and students in Years 7 to 12, with a reporting requirement in all schools at the first sign of any relevant behaviours or signs.
Mr O'Brien seconded the motion, and after a robust debate, the motion was passed. This forms an in-principle agreement that when the LNP next forms State Government in Queensland, the proposal will be implemented.
The motion was one of the most important at the convention and Mr O'Brien received the convention's Award for the Best Contribution to Debate for his speech on the motion.
"Teachers are in the frontline when it comes to identifying youths who are at risk, and we must support our schools as a vital link in identifying and helping teens who are struggling with mental health issues," Mr O'Brien said.
Mr O'Brien commended Mr Maddern on putting forward the motion, which was prompted in part by the recent tragic death of Maryborough teen Yannis Barounis.
The 17-year-old son of Tricia and Tasos Barounis died late last year, prompting his parents to become warriors in the fight against teen suicide and reducing the stigma of mental health.
Mrs Barounis delivered a moving speech in support of the motion.
His heartbroken father Tasos has created a website www.letitoutnow.com.au and app called Let It Out Now to help teens release their emotions via confidential recordings.
Mr Barounis said tech-savvy young people may find it easier to talk to the privacy of their phone rather than a real person, without fearing reactions or judgement, and the recordings could also be played back to a friend or carer if they chose to share them.
The app and recordings are entirely confidential and held in a secure site until they are automatically deleted – they cannot be accessed by third parties except by the user's choice.
Mr Barounis attended the conference in Brisbane in support of the motion, and hopes a collaborative approach will help prevent further tragedies.
Member for Wide Bay Mr O'Brien said he welcomed the move to formalise the role of teachers and schools in identifying youths who are struggling with illnesses such as depression.
"No family should have to go through what the Barounis's have been through, and no person should feel like they have to struggle with mental health concerns alone," Mr O'Brien said.
"These measures will help save lives among our most vulnerable teens."
Message from MySunshineCoast.com.au:
If you are or someone you care about are in distress please seek support:
In an emergency, call 000 immediately.
Lifeline (13 11 14, www.lifeline.org.au)
Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467, www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au)
Beyond Blue Support Service (1300 22 4636, www.beyondblue.org.au)
MensLine Australia (1300 78 99 78, www.mensline.org.au)
Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800, www.kidshelpline.com.au)