Up to $1 million will be spent boosting youth mental health services in the Macedon Ranges in a bid to help reduce the region’s higher-than-average suicide rates.

Service providers can apply for funding through the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network to establish programs to help youth.

Network deputy chief executive Julie Borninkhof said the federal government funding could be used to help provide intensive youth support through psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health nurses.

Ms Borninkhof said Public Health Information Development Unit data shows suicide rates in the Macedon Ranges are about 40 per cent higher than the Australian average across all age groups.

She said the funding targeted youth because “healthy communities stop young people going on to be vulnerable”.

Network chief executive and adjunct associate professor Christopher Carter said the goal of the funding was not just to put more money into services, but to create a system that was accessible, integrated and adaptable to the needs of young people, their carers and families.

He said the funding is not intended to duplicate existing services and the health network will help service providers to develop collaborative approaches.

Applications for the funding will open soon, with new services expected to begin operating during the second half of 2018.

The funding follows calls from Macedon Ranges and Sunbury residents for greater mental health help for young people.

The tight-knit communities took to social media in October in a plea for help.

“We need to be doing more,” one resident posted on Facebook.

“Too many members of our community have been prematurely taken from us.”

Macedon Ranges council has also announced it will conduct more of its Youth Mental Health First Aid courses this year.

Visit www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/live4life for more information.

Anyone experiencing mental health problems can call Lifeline 13 11 14, the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or visit www.eheadspace.org.au