Students from Baldivis Secondary College have participated in a potentially life-saving mental health program, equipping them with vital skills to help themselves and their peers.
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.
More than 300 Baldivis students participated in 12 workshops at the school on June 11 and 12, thanks to a partnership between Youth Focus and engineering and construction company, Clough, to fund mental health education. 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 latest statistics showing 51 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2017. For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.
Youth Focus Senior Manager for Services, Development and Innovation Chris Harris said one in four young people in Australia lived with a mental ill health, so early intervention was vital.
“Research shows that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first appear in people under the age of 25 so it is important we work to create supportive communities,” Mr Harris said.
“Outreach programs in schools provide a critical conduit with young people that helps raise awareness and understanding about youth mental health challenges.”
The Youth Focus schools program was set up in 2012 to bolster mental health literacy. Since then it has been revised to include more progressive messages.
“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.
“As a community we need to foster confidence in young people so they feel comfortable to start conversations about mental health with their friends and peers.”
Clough has partnered with Youth Focus for the past five years, and in that time has contributed to the schools program and towards core services.
Clough Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Peter Bennett, who is also Director of the Clough Foundation, said mental health was becoming more understood and recognised as a vital component of overall health.
“The work being done by Youth Focus is imperative in spreading that awareness to youth across WA,” Mr Bennett said.
“The youth of today are our leaders of tomorrow, and I think mental health education is just as important as any other facet of their education. By equipping young people with the tools and information to work on their own mental health and recognise when they can help others, we’re making positive impacts in our communities, and have the potential to change lives.”
Youth Focus has provided counselling and support to young people across WA for the past 25 years. Services also include mental health education in the schools and the community, as well as web-counselling to regional and remote parts of the state.
Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to 3678 youths and school and community education to another 6000 people.
If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443