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Life-saving mental health program in Pilbara

Tom Price locals have participated in a potentially life-saving mental health program, equipping them with vital skills to help vulnerable youth.

The engaging program, Having a Conversation about Mental Health, is run by Youth Focus and is open to Year 9 students, parents and teaching staff at secondary schools across metropolitan and regional Western Australia.

Almost 70 Tom Price Senior High School students, teachers and parents participated in two workshops on June 12 and 13, thanks to ongoing financial support from the Clough Foundation, the charitable trust of mining and construction company, Clough. The schools program is part of the Youth Focus mission to improve the mental health of young people and prevent youth suicide.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with statistics showing 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in Western Australia last year. For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

Youth Focus General Manager for Community Engagement Chris Harris said community education was the cornerstone of suicide prevention. “In Australia, one in four young people live with a mental health condition,” Mr Harris said. “Research shows that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first appear in people under the age of 25 so early intervention and creating supportive communities is paramount.

“Outreach programs in schools provide a critical conduit with young people that helps us raise awareness and understanding about youth mental health challenges.” The Youth Focus schools program was set up in 2012 to bolster mental health literacy in school communities. It was revised this year to include more progressive messages, including how to initiate conversations about mental health with young people.

“Through the Youth Focus schools program, we share important knowledge and skills so young people, parents and educators can recognise mental health challenges and deal with them before they become acute,” Mr Harris said.