Children as young as 12 are being prescribed antidepressants and grappling with depression and anxiety as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns with doctors issuing a plea to the Victorian Premier to re-open schools.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg backed the call today revealing he was distressed to learn from doctors in his own electorate about the struggles of suicidal teenagers.In an open letter to Mr Andrews, Melbourne GP Dr Stacey Harris warned that a public health crisis is emerging among young people.
“I am a GP working in a large clinic in Melbourne and I have never in my 15 years of general practice seen such devastation with patients’ mental health,’’ her letter states.
The GP said she was doing 15 to 20 mental health care consultations daily, in comparison to 3-5 this time last year.
“I have many 12-15 year olds so depressed that I have no other option but to put them on antidepressants,‘’ she said.
“Seeing children as young as 12 years describe their darkest thoughts, some suicidal, is very disturbing. They cry how much they are missing school and friends. I am doing many telehealth phone calls to distressed mothers alone with their newborns crying out for help.”
Mr Frydenberg urged the Victorian Premier to outline a road map for all children to return to school as soon as possible.
“As the Treasurer, I’m very focused on businesses reopening and people getting back to work,‘’ he said.
“But as a Victorian parent, I’m also very focused on my children and other people’s children getting back to school. I note that that timetable has been accelerated for some of the year levels but I cannot see why all students can’t get back to school in Victoria now.
“I’ve read letters from well-regarded doctors and GPs, open letters to the Premier of Victoria, and they speak of the mental health state of young people in Victoria as a result of the lockdown.
“And the number of cases they are seeing through their doors skyrocketing, providing antidepressants to kids as young as 12 and 13 as a result of this lockdown. So I say to the Premier follow the medical advice but please get Victorian children back to school at all levels.”