pilot mental health program successfully trialled in Victorian primary schools will be expanded to a total of 100 schools next year. 

State Education Minister James Merlino today announced a further 74 schools will join the Mental Health in Primary Schools Pilot, developed by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

The program was piloted in 10 primary schools last year with feasibility results encouraging, strong support from schools and indications that it could improve care pathways for children with emerging mental health issues. In March the Government extended the program to another 16 schools.

The initiative embeds a child mental health and wellbeing co-ordinator within schools to help identify and manage emerging mental health issues in students and provide connections between education, social and health services.

MCRI Professor Frank Oberklaid, who welcomed the expansion, said early evaluation results showed that the program significantly increased the confidence of teachers in addressing their students' mental health issues.

Professor Oberklaid said schools were the perfect platform to pick up any mental health problems early before they become entrenched. 

One in four children has a mental health disorder at some point during their childhood, with puberty a key developmental stage when mental health issues emerge.

Available for interview: 

Professor Frank Oberklaid, MCRI Group Leader, Policy and Equity

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About MCRI

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) is the largest child health research institute in Australia committed to making discoveries and developing treatments to improve child and adolescent health in Australia and around the world. They are pioneering new treatments, trialling better vaccines and improving ways of diagnosing and helping sick babies, children and adolescents. It is one of the only research institutes in Australia to offer genetic testing to find answers for families of children with previously undiagnosed conditions.


The pilot study is funded by a two-year Ian Potter Foundation grant and the Victorian Department of Education and Training.