One in seven children and young people aged 4 – 17 experience a mental health issue each year (Beyond Blue, 2020). Therefore, schools are recognised as an important location to address student wellbeing.
Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) has established a team of health professionals, known as the “School-Link team”.
This team works closely with health professionals and the education system to improve the mental health and educational outcomes for school aged children living in western Sydney.
A free telephone consultation service has been established which provides support to education staff and health clinicians who work with students.
WSLHD School-Link coordinator Carla Green said the consultation service has been operational since July 2020 and provides support for students experiencing mental health issues and barriers to accessing education.
“We have more than 340 primary and high schools which sit within our boundaries,” Carla said.
“The team has received more than 60 calls from health professionals, teachers and counsellors who contact us wanting information on issues such as school refusal, stigma, transitioning from primary to secondary school or help finding the right health service.
WSLHD Perinatal, Child and Youth Mental Health Services clinical director Dr Ashwini Padhi said the number of referrals reflect the increased mental health stress of children and young people in the current climate of COVID-19.
“Due to the demand for our service we have implemented a follow-up call service,” Ashwini said.
“We re-contact health professionals, counsellors and teachers to discuss the progress of the recommendations and to ensure the right services were provided.”
The School-Link team recognises the importance of early access to the health services and where possible, reduce the need for hospital admission.
The School-Link helpline is open Monday to Friday on 8890 5236 or 8890 6577 between 8.30-5pm. Alternatively, you can send an email to WSLHD-SchoolLink@health.nsw.gov.au
This free service is available to health and education staff from both government and non-government organisations.
Please note this is not a crisis service.
For 24-hour crisis services, please contact:
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511