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Jess’ story

Jess* is a 16-year-old who is thriving in her job at a local café. If you met Jess today, you may not realise that she’s one of the 40% of Western Australia’s young people navigating mental health challenges.

It wasn’t long ago that Jess’ anxiety and panic attacks felt so overwhelming that she was struggling to find the confidence to search for her first after-school job. Yet today, she has a confidence that seems to increase with every shift she works at the café.

Mental health can be an enormous barrier to employment for young people, yet finding meaningful employment can be one of the most effective preventative factors against the recurrence of mental ill-health.

Jess is one of the 177 young people who participated in the Youth Focus Independent Placement and Support (IPS) programs across Western Australia in 2022. Our IPS program gives young people the skills and support they need to secure and maintain jobs that align to their goals.

The program integrates expert support from a Youth Focus vocational specialist, in partnership with the young person’s clinician and support network. Our vocational specialist works closely with employers to create an environment where the young person can thrive. As a result, the young person builds greater self-esteem and, in many cases, they transition from our services.

Jamie is Jess’ Youth Focus vocational specialist. He says Youth Focus’ IPS program has a real and lasting impact on a young person’s mental health, sense of belonging and purpose.

“The program is really important on a community scale,” Jamie says. “We need to look at the strengths of our young people. We need to work with those strengths and help them overcome any barriers that they might have. When we support young people experiencing mental health challenges, it makes it easier for them to be connected, and to be part of the community.”

With suicide remaining the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24 in Australia, it’s absolutely critical to ensure those young people who are experiencing mental health challenges can access support like Youth Focus.

You can help WA’s young people to thrive. Your donation today will help us support more young people like Jess, giving them the support they need to pursue their goals and build their confidence.