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Youth Focus moves to digital counselling amid coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Youth Focus will continue to provide counselling support to vulnerable West Australians amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with the organisation tomorrow moving from face-to-face appointments to telephone and web counselling.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said the decision to transition from in-person counselling to technology-based services had been made in the best interests of staff and clients, with growing concern about the global spread of the virus.

From tomorrow, Youth Focus offices at Burswood, Joondalup, Mandurah, Albany and Bunbury, as well as the Youth Focus operated headspace centre at Geraldton will start online services.

Albany and Midland headspace will move to online services from next week, while the headspace Midland Youth Early Psychosis Program will continue to support clients in the community, including though clinical services.

“Like many organisations across Australia, Youth Focus is deeply concerned about COVID-19 and the potential impact it may have on our staff and clients,” Mr Papakotsias said.

“The health and safety of our employees and the young people we support is our top priority. For this reason, will tomorrow move to transition from in-person counselling to technology-based services to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Instead, we will instate support for clients via telephone and web counselling.

“This will enable us to continue to provide care for our clients and ensure they have access to critical mental health support at this challenging time.

“While the overall risk in WA of contracting COVID-19 remains low, infection numbers have increased. It is prudent that we take this step to minimise the risk to staff and clients given our counselling sessions are conducted in closed rooms with clinicians and clients in close proximity to each other.”

Mr Papakotsias said Youth Focus had in place a significant strategic response and management plan to reduce the risk of transmission.

“We ask clients to call their local office before scheduled appointments to clarify plans for ongoing counselling appointments, with most sessions to be conducted by telephone or through our secure video conferencing platform. The Midland Youth Early Psychosis Program will continue some office sessions and group sessions are operating at Albany with appropriate measures in place to reduce risk.”

“I would like to reassure all Youth Focus and headspace clients that confidentially remains paramount, no matter the method in which counselling sessions are conducted.”

Mr Papakotsias said the restriction on face-to-face counselling services would be reviewed regularly, in concert with government recommendations and latest updates from health authorities, including the World Health Organization.

Face-to-face counselling sessions would only be reinstated once the threat of COVID-19 has been officially downgraded, he said.

COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms which may include a fever, sore throat, cough or fatigue. For some people, it can be more severe and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties and can even be fatal.

People who have travelled overseas in the past 14 days and have COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing at an official COVID-19 clinic and must self-isolate while awaiting test result.

For more information, contact the Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080.

Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
[email protected]