Mandurah wins headspace as lifeline for struggling youth

Health minister Greg Hunt and Canning MP Andrew Hastie have announced the federal government will spend $3 million on a new headspace facility for Mandurah.

Mr Hunt said the facility, which would be located at the new Peel Youth Medical Centre (PYMS) Youth Health Hub, would be a “point of light” for youth struggling with their mental health.

He said the government was responding to the Mandurah community’s concerns about the tragedy of youth suicide.

“The thing about headspace is that it gets young people, and young people get it,” he said.

“It’s built around young people and for young people and it protects young people.

“This is very simply about a great national challenge, mental health, and in particular youth mental health.”

Health minister Greg Hunt with 3000 signatures from Mandurah residents calling for a headspace. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Health minister Greg Hunt with 3000 signatures from Mandurah residents calling for a headspace. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

GP down south’s Eleanor Britton presented Mr Hunt with a petition containing more than 3000 signatures calling for the headspace, which she and Mr Hastie had organised in the community.

“Andrew's advocacy, Eleanor's work, the support of PYMS, GP down south and the council have all come together to make a case that here is a challenge and here is a solution,” Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hastie said the funding for a Mandurah headspace had come about because of the groundswell of community support.

“This is something that has been driven from the bottom up, there was a very special moment earlier when Eleanor presented the minister with 3000 signatures, a big wad of paper, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for how much people want these services in the Peel region,” he said.

“It’s a grassroots movement that’s brought this to fruition.”

GP down south's Eleanor Britton with federal health minister Greg Hunt as he announces a headspace facility for Mandurah. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

GP down south's Eleanor Britton with federal health minister Greg Hunt as he announces a headspace facility for Mandurah. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Ms Britton said PYMS was honoured by the decision.

“I particularly want to thank everyone who signed the petition, the community support, we’ve got families, friends, parents of young people who have signed that petition who have committed suicide,” she said.

“It’s had a massive effect on this community and we know that the need is still there but hopefully we can now address that need.”

City of Mandurah Mayor Marina Vergone said a headspace would make an enormous difference to lives of young people in Mandurah.

City of Mandurah Mayor Marina Vergone welcomes the decision with PYMS doctor Rupert Backhouse. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

City of Mandurah Mayor Marina Vergone welcomes the decision with PYMS doctor Rupert Backhouse. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

“We are the largest regional city in Western Australia, 25 per cent of our population is under-25, so we have a massive need for this,” she said.

“To have it all coming together, with a headspace, with PYMS, it means we’re going to have a health services that will identify other issues and work together under one roof.”

Mr Hunt said the headspace was scheduled to be up and running by July 2018 at the Billy Dower Youth Centre while the health hub was being built, but was hopeful it could be in place at the end of 2017.

headspace offers early intervention for 12 to 25-year-olds in four key areas: mental health, related physical health, social and vocational support, and alcohol and other drug use.

Support is available by calling Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Lifeline on 131 114, or beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36.