30/07/2010. The Australian Law Students' Association (ALSA) today sent letters to the Federal Government and Opposition requesting a substantial increase in funding for mental health services for young adults.
Although both parties have made commitments to increasing services should they win the election, ALSA expressed concern in the letters that additional funding is needed to bring the quality of mental health services up to that of physical health services. In particular the Government's proposed mental health funding package, announced this week, does not include the funds for the services recommended by the experts as necessary to properly treat young Australians suffering from mental illness.
In the letters, ALSA drew attention to the special interest law students have in seeing that adequate mental health services are available to young people as a recent study conducted by the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Sydney University found that 41% of law students suffer from psychological distress severe enough to justify clinical assessment. This figure is significantly higher than for the general population. The letters also outline the economic loss for the nation resulting from mental illness among Australia's youth. ALSA has been actively involved in combating depression in law schools through a variety of methods. Adequate funding for mental health services available to young people is only one of these methods. ALSA is already working with representatives of law schools across the country and into the legal profession to improve the mental health of all 28 000 law students it represents.
The letters are available from ALSA's website at www.alsa.asn.au.
Vice President (Education)
Australian Law Students' Association