By Samantha Wheeler, YMCA Youth Press Gallery
After extended lockdowns, Tarneit Senior College students are advocating for greater mental health confidentiality.
Kushi Parikh, Lorrisjunior Pati, Namagembe Mwakasungura, Hazel Dua, Naufal Juman and Angad Randhawa created the Lowering the Age of Mental Health Confidentiality Bill for this year’s YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament.
The Bill calls to lower the age of mental health confidentiality from 18 to 16 years of age, in an attempt ‘to create better conversation and higher trust between young people and mental health practitioners’.
The students aim to break the ‘social stigma’ of mental illness, by making mental health more accessible to youth, especially from minorities and at risk-groups.
“We’re acting in defiance to generational trauma,” Miss Parikh said.
“We’re telling people that this is the time to go and break the cycle. Go get help, if you need it and want to, and you’re not going to be shamed for it.”
Victorian Member for Tarneit Sarah Connolly commended the students for raising mental health awareness.
“As with any Bill that comes before Parliament, getting feedback and meaningful contributions from those impacted is essential,” she said.
“It’s great to see such interest from students in Tarneit on important issues such as these and getting involved in our political process.”
The students hope this Bill will encourage more teens to seek help without fear of being judged or rejected by family members and communities.
“I was taught mental health is a hoax, and mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are not for you,” Miss Parikh said.
“(I have) first hand experience as a South-Asian woman and unfortunately, these views are not exclusive to South Asians, but to the black, Hispanic and Asian communities as well.”
Miss Dua agreed there needed to be great awareness for minority groups.
“As a woman of colour, there is definitely a certain plethora of stereotypes, and while it is ideal that we challenge and break them, it is a long journey,” she said.
The Bill passed in the YMCA Victorian Youth Parliament, and was handed to the Minister of Youth Ros Spence for consideration.
If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Headspace on 1800 650 890.
Samantha Wheeler is a member of the YMCA Youth Press Gallery.