25 June 2024

Mental health must be part of children’s health checks: RACGP

Australia’s peak body for general practitioners has thrown its support behind including mental health and wellbeing in early childhood health checks.  

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has provided feedback on the Draft National Guidelines for including mental health and wellbeing in early childhood health checks to the National Mental Health Commission.  

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said: “Mental health and wellbeing should absolutely be included in early childhood health checks – Australia is in the grips of a youth mental health crisis, and early intervention is critical. 

“Just last month, a Beyond Blue survey found a third of Australian parents with primary-school aged children are seriously concerned about their child’s mental health, with one in three extremely concerned. 

“GPs are the most visited health service in Australia and they’re at the frontline of mental health care – more than 22 million Australians visit a GP for essential healthcare every year, including mental health care.  

“And we are seeing more patients with mental health concerns. The proportion of GPs reporting mental health among their most common reasons for a patient consult rose from 61% in 2022 to 72% in 2023 in our last Health of the Nation report.   

“We need to take a holistic view of a child’s health and wellbeing. Mental health issues in childhood can have a substantial impact on wellbeing, and there is strong evidence that it can continue to impact on health and wellbeing into adulthood. 

“The RACGP is calling for funding for universal annual children’s health checks for the first 2,000 days – this is a critical period which sets a child up for life. And we need to ensure that the essential healthcare children need is affordable for every parent in Australia, no matter where they live or what they earn.”  


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