Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino has announced the state government is launching a “mental health menu” for schools which will see increased support for the mental health of students.

He said in May the government committed $200 million towards the issue of mental health in schools.

“It will be the absolute focus as students return to face-to-face teaching through the course of the next couple of weeks,” Mr Merlino said at a media conference on Thursday.

He said government schools will be able to choose from a range of initiatives which best suit their students’ needs, and there will be three tiers.

“Tier one – positive mental health promotion, and that includes initiatives like mental health first aid training, positive education and therapy dogs.

“Tier two – early intervention and cohort-specific initiatives – so things like cross-cultural responsiveness training or trauma-informed care.

“Tier three – targeted support for those experiencing mental health issues – so direct, additional mental health professionals working in our schools.”

He said the mental health royal commission recommended the fund be prioritised for rural and regional schools and therefore the initiative will begin in these schools in 2022, with metropolitan Melbourne to follow in subsequent years.