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Peel community forums on youth mental health

Youth Focus will host three mental health forums across the Peel region in February in an effort to help parents, carers, teachers and community members better support young people.

Sponsored by Alcoa of Australia, the interactive forums will teach participants how to identify the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, ways to start a conversation about mental health and the barriers to seeking help.

Forums will be held in at Bendigo Bank Stadium, Mandurah on February 20, Pinjarra Paceway on February 27 and the Waroona Community Resource Centre on February 28.

Presented by leading WA youth mental health professionals, the sessions will feature a screening of Fathom, a thought-provoking short film about a young father and musician struggling with depression, followed by a panel discussion.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said statistics showed one in four young Australians lived with a mental health condition.

“We know that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first appear in people under the age of 25 so early intervention and creating supportive, compassionate communities is vital to address these issues,” Ms Kalaf said.

Latest statistics show 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in Western Australia in 2016. For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

Ms Kalaf said the Alcoa of Australia partnership had enabled Youth Focus to initiate relationships with young people through Peel schools and outreach centres.

Alcoa of Australia funds youth mental health counselling, including one counsellor in the Peel region. Alcoa also provides funding for the Peel community mental health forums and the ground-breaking Young Men’s Project, which will take place in Peel in April.

“Youth Focus supporters like Alcoa are invaluable in helping us continue our important work to prevent youth suicide, which, sadly, is the biggest killer of young Australians,” Ms Kalaf said.

“It is largely due to the generosity of individuals and companies that we are able to provide young people with critical counselling services as well as suicide prevention education in schools. Without this, we would not be able to continue to support and care for some of our most vulnerable young people.”

Alcoa of Australia Managing Director Michael Parker said Alcoa was proud to be a long-term partner of Youth Focus.

“Mental health issues are a significant challenge of our modern life, with every family touched in some way. It is critical that we all play a part in supporting each other, raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness in our communities,” Mr Parker said.

“Alcoa values the vital services Youth Focus provides in the Peel region to help build strength, capacity and resilience in our young people, while also providing a direct service to local schools and impacted families.

“Youth Focus is finding real solutions to tackle mental health and we are very proud to be on the journey with them.”

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

The Peel events start at 6pm and run until 7.30pm. To register, call 6266 4348 or email

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.