Demand soars for Youth Focus services in the Peel region

The demand for mental health services for young people in the Peel region and Rockingham more than doubled in the first six months of 2016 compared to all of 2015, according to Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf.

“From January to July this year, Youth Focus provided services to 90 young people in Peel and Rockingham compared to a total of 80 for 2015,” Ms Kalaf said during Mental Health Week.

“This equates to an overall total of 431 counselling sessions, including 72 school based sessions, with the majority occurring through our Rockingham office.

“The high demand for our services is a clear indicator that more young people in the region are displaying help-seeking behaviours, particularly given that that three in every four young people battling mental illnesses are not seeking help.”

Youth Focus is an independent Western Australian for purpose organisation that works to prevent youth suicide in the 12 to 25 age group.

It provides youth counselling and family therapy services to Peel and the Rockingham area from its Rockingham office as well as outreach locations and high schools.

Ms Kalaf said Youth Focus was in partnership with Alcoa of Australia which is funding the provision of youth mental health counselling including that of one counsellor based in the Peel region.

Alcoa is also providing funding for the delivery of the Year 9 School Mental Health Awareness Program at two schools as well as a Community Mental Health Forum.

“Alcoa’s strong presence in the local community and its generous financial partnership means Youth Focus can provide increased services to more vulnerable young people,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Without the philanthropy of organisations like Alcoa, Youth Focus would not be able to provide the type of services so desperately needed in many regional areas.

“And this is especially so in Peel which experienced tragic losses of young life earlier this year.”

Alcoa of Australia Managing Director Michael Parker said the company’s partnership with Youth Focus aimed to support young people in need, while building a greater awareness and understanding of youth mental health.

“There is clearly a strong need to be supporting Peel youth,” Mr Parker said. “The more people in the community equipped to recognise and help young people with mental health issues, the stronger and more resilient the community will be.”

Ms Kalaf said the increased demand highlighted the importance of the Youth Focus school-based presence, given that schools, families and young people accounted for 73 per cent of all new referrals with 40 per cent from high schools.

She said it was interesting that 64 per cent of all Youth Focus school-based referrals were generated from high schools in regional and remote areas, including from the Peel region.

Youth Focus also collaborates with other community organisations including headspace to network, plan and provide extra support.


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