Mental health support heads in right direction

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
headspace Margaret River's Miriam Aparis, Eamon Shanley, centre manager Marie Eckersley, Maureen Jubb-Shanley, Phyllis Njag, Diane Archer and Madison Harper are ready to welcome the region's young people.
Camera Iconheadspace Margaret River's Miriam Aparis, Eamon Shanley, centre manager Marie Eckersley, Maureen Jubb-Shanley, Phyllis Njag, Diane Archer and Madison Harper are ready to welcome the region's young people. Credit: Supplied

A headspace satellite office which opened in Margaret River this week will be welcomed to address mental health challenges for some of the shire’s younger residents.

Relationships Australia is overseeing operation of the new office on Station Road catering to young people between ages 12 and 25, with walk-in self-referrals available.

Services in Bunbury and Busselton had already helped more than 1300 young people during the past financial year, WA Primary Health Alliance general manager of commissioned services Mark Cockayne said, with “a tangible and positive impact on the wellbeing of young people in the area”.

“We expect a large uptake of the Margaret River service,” he said. “Headspace Bunbury is one of the busiest headspace centres in the State, and the service is expanding to keep up with the increasing demand and provide more accessible, local support for the lower South West comm-unity.”

Recent studies have shown an escalation of mental health presentations at local hospitals, with waiting lists for youth counselling services operating outside of Margaret River. Earlier this year, the Times reported overall mental health and drug-related attendances had increased more than 28 per cent in the past three years.

The most worrying figures related to juveniles, with 21 mental health attendances in 2017, 39 in 2018, and 57 last year.

Federal MHR Nola Marino said investment in the service reflected the Government’s priority for mental health and suicide prevention.

“Our young people are our future,” she said. “It is vital we continue to support young people who are experiencing emerging or existing mental health issues, without the additional barriers of distance and travel.

“headspace Margaret River will complement the existing centre in Bunbury and satellite in Busselton, bringing more services to young people.”The satellite office would help young people with alcohol and drug issues, work and study support, as well as counselling, Relationships Australia WA chief executive Terri Reilly said.

headspace executive director Julia Smith said COVID-19 was an additional pressure on the resilience of clients.

“We know young people are experiencing a range of potential stressors at the moment due to COVID-19 and this makes accessing mental health support so important,” she said.The service operates on strict hours Tuesday to Friday, with appointments available via a general practitioner, mental health workers, or by self-referral. Call 6164 0680 or info@headspacebunbury.org.au.

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