Young men with mental health concerns need their mates!

One of Western’s Australia’s leading mental health service providers for 12 to 25 year olds, is appealing to the community to Mind Your Mates, especially young men.

Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf said the organisation was successful in assisting young men with their mental health issues but taking the first step towards self-help was often the hardest.

“Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women but they are less likely to reach out for help,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Many young men still feel there’s a stigma associated with mental health issues, are too embarrassed to talk to others and often just stick it out and hope their problems will disappear.”

Ms Kalaf was launching Youth Focus’s Mind Your Mates – an end of financial year campaign aimed at raising funds and awareness and to coincide with Men’s Health Week from June 12 to 18.

Mind Your Mates focuses on young men’s mental health and calls on male and female “mates” to support their male friends with mental health issues.

If you wish to donate, please go to www.youthfocus.com.au/mindyourmates or text MATE to 0437 371 371.

Ms Kalaf said that the 2015 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed only 27 per cent of men sought help compared to 40 per cent of women.

“The confronting reality is that mental health problems rarely go away without intervention and can be magnified to the point where self-harm or, in some cases, suicide may occur,” she said.

“It is also particularly disturbing that of the 59 young lives lost to suicide in WA in 2015, the majority were males.”

Ms Kalaf said the participation rate for young men accessing Youth Focus’s free, professional counselling services had risen from 20 per cent in 2013 to 28 per cent in 2015, reflecting targeted efforts to work with more young men.

“This trend seems to have continued into the last six months of 2016 with 38 per cent of our clients in metropolitan schools being male, 33 percent in regional schools and young men making up nearly 30 per cent of clients attending our office locations,” she said.

“We believe some of this success can be attributed to our education and training work in schools through the Understanding Mental Health presentations to Year 9 students, where we are reducing stigma and empowering young people, especially males, to seek help for mental health issues.”

Ms Kalaf said that while this was encouraging, Youth Focus needed the help of the community – especially ‘mates’- to ensure that young people at risk received early intervention with their issues.

“We are urging friends and families to talk to young men about their mental health concerns as well as donating generously so that Youth Focus can continue to provide its life-changing services,” she said.

Youth Focus has an office in Burswood, Joondalup, Albany, Bunbury and Rockingham. It is also the lead agency for headspace centres in Albany, Midland and Geraldton.

Media contact: Kaye Hopkins 0448 882 893

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