Federal Member for Dobell Emma McBride will invite young people to join a “Youth Mental Health Forum” on the Central Coast during Mental Health Month in October.
The forum was one of the “actions” to come out of today’s Youth Mental Health Roundtable in Tuggerah, involving mental health experts, psychologists, counsellors, support groups, schools and young people.
“I was pleased that representatives of Lifeline, Headspace, ARAFMI, the Iris Foundation and Coast Shelter joined the roundtable,” Ms McBride said.
“The clear message from today is that it is time for ‘action’, and that starts with asking young people want they want and need.
“We heard about some really successful programs happening in schools and not-for-profit organisations on the Coast, and a program that will begin shortly in Wyong with funding from the Primary Health Network,” Ms McBride said.
“These programs are working because they are responding to what young people want – to know what services are available, and how they can access them.”
A card with mental health service contacts is given to students at some schools, and a mobile phone “app” has been developed by a homelessness service.
“These are local, practical things that we can do to help,” Ms McBride said.
One school was developing a “year 13” program to keep students connected with their community once they leave school, and another program focused on the transition from primary to high school.
“We heard about the importance of mentoring, particularly for young people in
out-of-home care, and facing other issues such as homelessness and family violence,” Ms McBride said.
Funding of mental health services and affordable housing for young people moving out of refuges were also raised as important issues which Ms McBride will raise with Labor Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Julie Collins.
“There is a shortage of psychologists on the Coast; one has a waiting list with 500 people on it,” Ms McBride said.
“We need to make it easier and affordable to access these services.
“We also heard about the need for greater mental health education for GPs, nurses and teachers who have the most contact with young people.
“The mental health and wellbeing of young people is an issue of great concern in Australia, particularly in regions such as ours on the Central Coast with high youth unemployment and homelessness,” Ms McBride said.
Australia-wide, one in seven children has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and suicide now accounts for a third of deaths among people aged 14 to 24.
“As a pharmacist and former mental health worker, I have a strong interest in helping to improve the health and wellbeing of our young people, and now I want to hear directly from them,” Ms McBride said.
Ms McBride will work with Headspace, Coast Shelter, local schools and other groups with established youth reference groups to organise a forum in October.
Young people interested in participating in the “Youth Mental Health Forum” can contact Ms McBride by emailing email@example.com
For 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Other services include:
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978