Mental Health

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (15:15): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing regarding mental health.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: As part of my long interest in suicide prevention, I understand the importance of community-based initiatives. I am also well aware of community sport's role in advancing awareness of these issues. This has become particularly evident to me in my strong association with country football, netball and softball over many years. Will the minister update the council on community-based initiatives to support mental health?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:16): Through you, Mr President, I thank the honourable member for his question and I acknowledge his achievements in sport far exceed any that I ever achieved.

The Marshall Liberal government is committed to providing support for teenagers and young adults living with mental health issues. As the honourable member highlights, sport can be a wonderful gateway to young people in supporting them in their mental health. We have a number of policy commitments in relation to youth mental health generally. The area of paediatric eating disorders is a cause which has been taken up by this council over the years, as has been the specialist borderline personality disorders. Our government has a commitment to both of those services—an expansion of youth-focused services.

The honourable member's question related particularly to sport and in that context I take the opportunity to highlight to the council the recent South Australian National Football League Teen Wellbeing football match, which was held last month at the Maughan Thiem Hyundai Oval. The South Australian Mental Health Commission partnered with the Woodville-West Torrens Football Club and UnitingCare Wesley Bowden to have the round 10 match between the Eagles and Adelaide dedicated to raising awareness of teen mental health issues and reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental ill health.

Before the match began, a chairman's lunch with the theme 'It's okay not to feel okay—let's talk' brought together more than 150 people to hear guest speaker Joe Williams, a former rugby league footballer and professional boxer. Those present report that Joe gave a powerful speech about the importance of good mental health and the difference it makes when we all look out for each other and offer support to people we know.

As Joe stressed, suicide prevention starts with conversations around the table, in our communities and in groups such as sports clubs. Sometimes, people who are struggling might find it difficult to reach out or might not reach out at all. Following Joe's presentation, a panel of South Australian mental health experts shared their advice on teenage mental health and wellbeing.

The SANFL already has a reach of 41,000 young people, not counting their families, coaches and support personnel. The Teen Wellbeing football match reached many more South Australians as the match was televised by channel 7. Through its partnership with the Woodville-West Torrens Football Club and UnitingCare Wesley Bowden, the SA Mental Health Commission has demonstrated the state's commitment to bring a greater focus on the promotion of good mental health and the prevention and early intervention of mental ill health in our community.

Through initiatives such as the SANFL Teen Wellbeing football match and the Adelaide Crows' Breakthrough Mental Health Awareness round, which I had the pleasure of attending earlier in the year, we can all work together to breakdown the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and grow our state's mental wealth.