Suicide prevention, regional and rural mental health, early intervention and prevention are the focus of new student wellbeing and mental health initiatives at NSW Public schools announced during Mental Health Month.

NSW Nationals Education Minister Sarah Mitchell joined Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor to announce the first round of grants totalling over $2.5 million. The grants are provided as part of the NSW Nationals in Government’s $88.4 million mental health in schools commitment.

“With one in seven children and young people experiencing a mental health issue each year, and half of all mental health disorders emerging before the age of 14, schools have an important role in student wellbeing and mental health,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We are proud to announce that the first round of grant funding partnerships will expand the breadth of programs to support students and build the mental health literacy of teachers so they are better able to respond to students who need help.”

Grants include the PAX Good Behaviour Game for students in Kindergarten-Year 3 and the Headspace Schools and Families Enhancing Minds (SAFEMinds) and Suicide Risk Continuum Training for students, families and staff.

Funding will also be provided to expand Project Air Strategy for Schools, which supports students with complex mental health problems, and Youth in Distress, a professional learning program to build on the skills of school counselling staff in managing suicidality and self-harm.

Ms Taylor said funding was also being provided for the batyr@school program, which will target students in rural and regional NSW in line with the Rural Youth Strategy.

“We know the impacts of drought reach far beyond the farm and into people’s mental wellbeing for both adults and young people,” Ms Taylor said.

“Early support and prevention is key to mental health and our schools are on the front line in providing this support.”

If you or someone you know needs crisis support, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, or for local mental health services call the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.