Health

Gov’t funds free access to online parenting resources to support children’s mental wellbeing

Australian parents and caregivers will soon have free access to online resources to support their children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Australian government’s latest A$40.6 million investment under the Parenting Education and Support grant is funding access to Triple P – Positive Parenting Program. Developed locally, the programme has been used by families in over 30 countries for over 40 years.

Triple P, which has been proven to work across cultures, socio-economic groups and in many family structures, provides parents and caregivers with a range of strategies for supporting children’s healthy development. 

Those strategies include ways to create the best environment for a child’s development; addressing child behaviours, promoting new skills, and helping emotional self-regulation; raising happier, more confident and capable children; and improving your relationship as a family.

The online programme, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt, will give parents a better understanding of their children’s mental health and wellbeing, help them identify potential behavioural problems, and plan when and how to access help.

Triple P also delivers specialist support for parents of children with disability, parents of children with health concerns, parents going through separation or divorce, and parents coming from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and First Nations.

In a separate statement, the organisation said it will work with the government, the mental health sector, and other services such as schools, early childhood services, and child health centres, to bring access to its online parenting resources.

WHY IT MATTERS

In Australia, one in seven children aged 4-11 experiences a mental disorder. Based on a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, about half of all mental health conditions in the country begin by the age of 14 with ADHD being the most common mental health problem experienced by children, followed by anxiety disorders.

Despite this, about 65% of Australian parents are not confident in identifying signs of social or emotional problems in their children and do not know where to get help, according to a national study.

“We know that many mental health conditions develop at an early age and then continue throughout life, growing in their severity. That’s why it is so important that we act early and equip parents and carers with the tools they need to best support their children,” David Coleman, associate minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, said.

For Triple P International Country Director Carol-Markie-Dadds, the “key” to addressing children’s mental health concerns before they become severe is a mix of early intervention strategies and building parents’ mental health literacy to recognise and respond to early signs of anxiety or stress.

Parents and caregivers, she said, play a major role in the long-term success of their children’s emotional resilience, mental health, and life outcomes. “Positive family relationships are key to shaping a healthy and supportive environment in which children will thrive”.

THE LARGER TREND

The free access to Triple P complements existing government support to children and their families, including new Head to Health Kids hubs and perinatal mental health screening. 

In September, the federal government launched a new mobile app that also helps parents support their children’s mental wellbeing. Available on Android and iOS devices, the Raising Healthy Children app developed by the Raising Children Network provides parents with children aged 12 and below with information on their child’s health, development and wellbeing. Over 30 topics, including anxiety, stress, bullying, and gender identity, are currently listed on the app with more to come later.

The following month, the government released its National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy which outlines a framework to guide the development of integrated services that maintain and support the mental health and wellbeing of children aged 0-12 and their families.

ON THE RECORD

“Now more than ever, parents, carers and children are living with increased levels of anxiety and stress due to the pandemic, disasters, and global events. The program will give parents and caregivers the tools and confidence they need to support their children’s mental health wellbeing in these times of uncertainty and beyond,” Markie-Dadds said.

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