Mental health care workers in the region say more needs to be done to tackle rising problems of alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and economic stress. Doctors and frontline professionals responded to recent Times reports outlining a worrying three-year, 28 per cent jump in hospital presentations for drug abuse, self-harm and suicide attempts at Margaret River Hospital. Presentations by teenagers and children also doubled compared to 2017 figures. Frontline workers told the Times many might be surprised to see the hardships suffered by less fortunate residents, including young people, despite Margaret River’s high-end reputation. “I would hope that all forms of media would support a combined effort to tackle this epidemic that is occurring right across our community, schools and homes,” Surfside Church pastor Jack Hough said. “To my mind, this drug epidemic is far more insidious and destructive than the current coronavirus.” Mindful Margaret River taskforce chairman Stuart Hicks said members also reported a “significantly increasing mental health load faced by school-aged children”. “Expert studies confirm the necessity of forestalling mental ill-health among the young,” Mr Hicks said. “Youth anxieties and depression include some very modern dilemmas that previous generations happily didn’t have to confront.” The grim news was buoyed by news this week a headspace satellite office would open mid-year. But taskforce members said social media — including bullying, body image and self-esteem — as well as the normalisation of self-harm, environmental anxiety, domestic violence and acceptance of different sexualities were prominent factors needing attention. “Young people are often at the forefront of domestic upheavals,” Mr Hicks said. “The inter-generational pressures of alcohol and other drug abuse they observe among their parents and family friends.” Other health professionals said the region still needed greater investment in preventative mental health services. Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman earlier called for urgent State intervention, which was declined by WA Health Minister Roger Cook. A doctor who wrote an open letter to the Times last week said little had changed in the past decade. “There have been three reviews into mental health in this region, each giving us unpalatable statistics that the region’s mental health is deteriorating by the measure of increasing suicide and domestic violence,” the doctor said. Drugs, a pro-alcohol culture, and “enforced poverty” of residents on welfare benefits were “a driver of poor mental and physical health”. Mr Hicks noted teachers were increasingly called upon to help adolescents uncertain about where to seek help.