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Gilmore College students learn life-saving mental health skills

Students from Gilmore College in Orelia have participated in a potentially life-saving program that provides skills to help young people communicate about mental health.

The program, Mental Notes: Conversations 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.

Over the past two days, more than 230 students participated in eight workshops at the school, thanks to a partnership between Youth Focus and resources company Alcoa that funds and delivers mental health services in the Kwinana, Peel and Upper South West areas. The schools program is part of Youth Focus’ suite of services aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people to prevent youth suicide.

Earlier this month, Youth Focus also delivered a mental health education awareness program to 90 Alcoa apprentices with information about how to start a conversation with someone who may be struggling and where to go for help.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians. Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 49 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2019.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said one in four young people in Australia lived with a mental ill health, so early intervention was crucial.

“Research shows that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first appear in people under the age of 25,” Mr Papakotsias said. “This tells us it is critically important that we work to create communities that know how to appropriately respond to when someone is experiencing mental ill health.

“Youth Focus programs in schools provide a conduit between young people and our support services that helps raise awareness about youth mental health and how young people can help themselves and each other.”

Alcoa Corporate Affairs Manager Suellen Jerrard said the company was proud to support the schools program, which provided a vital link between young people and the support programs available. The Youth Focus schools program was set up in 2012 to improve mental health literacy in the community. Since then, it has been revised to include more progressive messages.

Youth Focus is the only specialist non-government youth mental health service in WA and works to prevent suicide and improve the mental health of young people aged 12 to 25 through free counselling and community education services.

Last financial year Youth Focus supported 6090 young people through its counselling, assessment and headspace services and another 5773 people through school and community education programs at 37 schools.

Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
[email protected]