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Step out to save lives

Commit to the kilometres to save lives!

Registrations have opened for Walk for Me 2021, an online fitness challenge to raise awareness about youth mental health during Mental Health Week from October 9 to 16.

Organised by leading youth mental health provider, Youth Focus, the event allows participants to decide where, when and the distance they will walk while raising vital funds for youth mental health services and suicide prevention education in Western Australia.

Supporters can walk 15km, 24km or 49km, representing the 49 young people who died by suicide in the 2019 and the age bracket of 15-24, Youth Focus’ key demographic

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said the past 18 months and the COVID-19 pandemic had shown that mental health support has never been more important for young people.

“COVID has presented a wide range of social issues and challenges for young people already dealing with mental ill-health,” Mr Papakotsias said.

“These impacts range from immediate in terms of anxiety and uncertainty around lockdowns to longer-term issues such as unemployment, homelessness and family and domestic violence.

“Forecasts by the University of Sydney show likely increases in the number of COVID-19 related mental health related presentations to emergency departments, hospital treatment after self-harm episodes and suicide deaths of people aged between 15-24.

“At best, research by the university’s Brain and Mind Centre projects an increase of suicides of young people by 12.4%, at worst 18.3% over the next five years.”

Last year’s inaugural Walk for Me event attracted 1211 participants and 3338 donations, raising $152,386 towards Youth Focus services.

Funds raised from Walk for Me 2021 will help Youth Focus continue to provide free professional counselling sessions for young people and suicide prevention education programs in WA schools.

In 2019/20, 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.

“Not only has Walk for Me become an important part of our fundraising calendar, but it calls on communities to remain connected and walk in solidarity with those we know who are on their own personal mental health journeys,” Mr Papakotsias said.

“I urge everyone to get on board, no matter your age, ability or fitness level, so we can all work together to help as many young people as possible access mental health care.”

Mental Health Week is a national awareness week aimed at increasing mental wellbeing in the community. This year’s theme is Mental health starts with our children.

To join Walk for Me, register at www.walkforme.org

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au