State member for Lowan Emma Kealy has called on the Victorian government to put a bigger focus on mental health in its decision making process.
"After six lockdowns and more than 18 months living under the uncertainty of pandemic, the toll on our mental health is getting worse - not better," Ms Kealy said.
Ms Kealy, who is Victoria's Shadow Minister for Mental Health, said a mental health professional should be appointed to the crisis cabinet to "provide expert advice and input to proposed restrictions or extensions of lockdown."
The candidate would ideally have expertise in youth mental health, according to Ms Kealy, who cited data obtained from Kids Helpline.
The data showed Victorian youths used the service 28 per cent more between March and July than the same period in 2019.
The figures for July in Victoria were also eight per cent higher than those in June.
"Parents can see the toll of lockdown, of yo-yoing in and out of the classroom, of isolation from friends and loved ones and community sport," Ms Kealy said.
The Kids Helpline data showed marked increases across the country, with spikes of over 50 per cent reported in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.
From June 14 to July 19, Victoria reported a 68 per cent spike in calls, from 2190 calls to 3632 per week; NSW showed a 52 per cent rise (2733 to 4143) and South Australia 50 per cent (641 to 964).
"Whether it's school closures and ever-changing routines, isolation from their friends and family, or being unable to do the things they love which keep them physically and mentally well, including community sport, music and art lessons, these lockdowns are taking a growing toll," Ms Kealy said.
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