Youth Focus has today launched an end of financial year appeal to raise vital awareness and funds to connect more young people with life-changing mental health support.
Eighteen-year-old university student Rose was diagnosed with anxiety after experiencing 13 weeks of chronic stomach pain, hospital trips and specialist appointments. Her attendance at school was low and she faced debilitating panic attacks almost every night.
“I couldn’t go to school; I was constantly arguing with my family and I was disconnected from my friends.”
“I isolated myself from everyone, unable to connect and not wanting to face the reality of school, pressure and responsibility.”
At 15 years old, Rose realised that she had no memory of the previous year.
“I realised going into year 10 that I had no memory of the year before. I still don’t. It’s still quite blurry and fuzzy.”
It was around this time that Rose reached her lowest point.
“There was a night where it was my lowest and I didn’t know what to do. I was begging my parents to send me to a mental hospital because I didn’t trust myself.”
“When you’re a teenager and don’t understand what’s happening, it can be frightening and quite isolating and thinking you’re the only one going through all of this.”
“I felt very lonely, sad and anxious and I didn’t see much of a way out of what I was feeling. It was hard to deal with the anxiety without knowing what was going on,” Rose said.
Spending most of her time in student services at school, Rose was recommended to a counselling service. Rose was then referred to longer-term counselling at Youth Focus, where she met a counsellor weekly to talk, learn strategies to manage her anxiety and support her healing process.
Rose spent many months in counselling with Youth Focus. To further support her on her challenging road to recovery, Rose was recommended to the Youth Focus Mentoring Program to help her transition from regular counselling with the support of a trusted mentor.
It was then that Rose was introduced to Aimee and began a life-changing 12-month mentoring relationship.
The Youth Focus Mentoring Program supports young people aged 12 to 25 who are experiencing depression, anxiety, self-harm and thoughts of suicide and are accessing counselling services from Youth Focus. It also aims to help young people transition from ongoing counselling in a positive, supportive environment.
Volunteer mentors undertake comphrensive training and education with Youth Focus. Their role is to help young people enhance skills relating to self-esteem, communication, goal setting, social skills, trust, relationships and conflict resolution.
“I’m really glad I found Youth Focus because I couldn’t have healed and recovered the way that I did without them.”
“The mentoring program helped in that it weaned me off counselling in a very structured and useful way.”
“It provided me with a friend that I could talk to and that I could meet up with. It was a safe space where I could talk but in a very casual and relaxed setting.”
“Aimee became like my big sister. I could talk to her and get help,” Rose said.
Rose’s mental health journey has had its ups and downs, but she says she is grateful for the support she received to aid her recovery.
“I still have my moments, but now I can overcome them. And I can see a future full of hope and happiness.”
“If I hadn’t found Youth Focus and Aimee, then I would be in a very dark place. Youth Focus has helped me overcome my anxiety and the self-esteem issues that I had that were quite destructive. It helped me find healing.”
Aimee joined the Youth Focus Mentoring Program in 2019, with Rose being her first mentee match. She says that being a mentor enhanced her life in so many ways.
“It was really rewarding to see Rose blossoming every time we caught up.”
“Even over the course of year 12, with all the stresses she had, she was becoming this incredible person and really looking after herself. It was just amazing to watch her go through that journey.”
“I feel like I gained confidence because I was anxious too. And then Rose looked up to me and she was happy. We were catching up every week and she was telling me what was going on in her life, and it made me feel great that she felt she could confide in me,” Aimee said.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 58 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2020.
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 counselling, mentoring, outreach and community education services offered free of charge to young people.
Last financial year Youth Focus supported 4,599 young people through its counselling, assessment and headspace services and another 7,696 people through school and community education programs at 48 schools.
Launching the Youth Focus end of financial year appeal, Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said that mental health support had never been more important for young people.
“Demand for Youth Focus services continues to rise. Because of this, programs which are aimed at supporting young people in transitioning from counselling services and into the community have never been more crucial,” Mr Papakotsias said.
“Youth Focus relies heavily on the generosity of the community to enable us to continue to expand and provide critical support for young people. This fundraising campaign will help us to ensure vulnerable Western Australians who need our help have the very best chance of receiving it.”
One mentoring journey costs Youth Focus $1,000. One mentoring session costs $40. To make a tax-deductible donation to support Youth Focus and its Mentoring Program please visit www.youthfocus.com.au/donate