STUDENTS in secondary schools across the Wimmera will soon have access to professional mental health support.
The state government recently announced its new $51.2 million Mental Health in Schools program.
Through the program, schools will be able to employ qualified mental health professionals such as counsellors, youth workers or psychologists.
Uniting Wimmera acting executive officer Josh Koenig said Uniting welcomed any sort of support or initiative that would help young people with their mental health.
"It's really important to emphasise the need for continued mental health support and early intervention, particularly in rural communities,” he said.
Mr Koenig said the challenge would be recruitment and retention of mental health professionals in rural Victoria.
Every government secondary school will receive between one and five days a week of support from a mental health professional, depending on their enrollment numbers.
The mental health professionals will provide direct counselling support and other early intervention services for students that need it, as well as coordinating support for students with severe needs.
They will also lead prevention activities by giving school staff the skills they need to manage student mental health and help embed mental health promotion and prevention programs and strategies in schools.
Statistics show one in seven Victorians between the ages of four and 17 are estimated to have a mental health issue.
Education Minister James Merlino said he hoped the new program would decrease the data.
“We know that when our kids are happy and healthy they can focus on their learning and have the best opportunity to succeed in education and excel in life,” he said.
“More health professionals in schools means the kids who need extra help will get it, and won’t be left behind.”