When a sore tummy means more than just a bellyache

A sore tummy in the morning before school can be a sign of anxiety in children (Bigstock)

Providing tools to recognise signs of mental distress is a recommendation for a new national children’s mental health and wellbeing strategy being launched by the Morrison Government today. Source: The Age.

A sore tummy in the morning before school can be a sign of anxiety in children — a symptom that they might be struggling to cope.

Among the recommendations of the new strategy, families, doctors and educators will be given the tools to identify the early signs and symptoms of mental distress in children aged 0 to 12.

Professor Frank Oberklaid, co-chair of the national children’s mental health and wellbeing strategy advisory group, said it’s about focusing on more than mental illness diagnosis and the pointy end of mental health services. Instead, it’s about looking at a “wellbeing continuum” and how to address the needs of children at all stages — whether they’re well, coping, struggling or unwell.

The strategy has four areas of focus: family and community, the service system, education settings, and evidence and evaluation. It’s underpinned by eight key principles, which include prioritising the interests and needs of children, equity of access, and providing services that are developmentally and culturally appropriate.

Among its recommendations the strategy calls for action from both federal and state governments to increase parents’ awareness of mental health issues in children; to identify gaps in current and future mental health services for children; to increase resourcing for public mental health services for young children; and to increase training requirements for child mental health for all relevant service providers including GPs and educators.


Keeping kids well the focus of new national mental health strategy (By Rachel Clun, The Age)  

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