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New website to help as students return to school

One of Western Australia’s leading youth mental health providers has launched its new website to help young people better connect with vital support and counselling services.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said the website, which launches today as thousands of Western Australian students return to school, would deliver valuable resources for young people seeking mental health support.

“We know that half of all young people with mental health issues seek support from the internet. And we know that stress and anxiety in young people can increase at the start of the new school year, when teenagers transition into Years 11 and 12 or move to new schools,” Ms Kalaf said.

“This new website will improve our ability to support young people. It will help remove barriers for people with disabilities, allow appointment requests and referrals and offer useful resources, tools and information for people seeking help for themselves or others.

“Importantly, the brief for the new Youth Focus website was created by young people, for young people. We value this input and have taken the feedback on board to ensure the information and functions of our new website are useful to young Western Australians.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with latest statistics showing 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2016.

A 2015 Federal Government survey into child and adolescent mental health starkly revealed that, on average, one child in every Australian classroom had attempted suicide.

The survey found that one in 13 teenagers had contemplated suicide, one in 20 had made a plan and one in 40 had attempted to take their own life.

Ms Kalaf said suicide was the most preventable cause of death in young people.

“Youth Focus is committed to working in partnership with other agencies, both locally and nationally, to invest in the lives of young people,” she said.

“We strive to prevent youth suicide, but improving the mental health of young people starts at a community level.

“At this time of the year, we encourage parents to take time to understand what is happening in their child’s life and help them to reduce any stress, anxiety, high expectations or triggers to mental ill-health, such as bullying.

“Research shows it is important to make young people feel safe and give them the time and space to express how they are feeling.

“As a community, we need to do all we can to help turn the tide on the unacceptably high number of young people who think that ending their life is their only option.”

Each year, Youth Focus supports around 3000 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and outreach programs in schools.

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.