Peel's youth mental health services not funded for full-time counselling

Under pressure: The government is facing mounting concerns about support provided to local young people following a number of suicides. Photo: Getty Images.

Under pressure: The government is facing mounting concerns about support provided to local young people following a number of suicides. Photo: Getty Images.

The youth mental health services paid for by the government to be the first port of call for young people struggling with their mental health are part-time in the Peel, have no offices in Mandurah and their programs are run from as far away as Rockingham.

Not only are services thin on the ground, they are coming under ever-increasing demand, according to a group providing youth counselling in Mandurah.

Youth Focus, a non-profit organisation headquartered in Burswood, lease a room at the Billy Dower Youth Centre, which it uses for face-to-face counselling sessions twice a week, but is not funded to run a full-time service in Mandurah.

A spokesperson for Youth Focus said the nearest office to Mandurah was in Rockingham, with youth workers and counsellors visiting the region from there.

Youth Focus also runs school-based programs at Halls Head College, John Tonkin College and Pinjarra Senior High School, she said.

“Youth Focus provides youth counselling and family therapy services in the Mandurah/Peel region via its offices based in Rockingham, and via four outreach/school locations in the region,” the spokesperson said.

“Youth Focus also provides mental health education and community forums to hundreds of community members (students, parents and teachers) annually.”

The Mental Health Commission, who funds the services, said funding was part of $9.5 million allocated for the Response to the Suicide and Self-Harm in Schools Program in the Suicide Prevention 2020 Strategy.

“The program is currently delivered by the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Youth Focus in partnership, and covers all secondary schools in the Mandurah area, as well as training and development of parents, teachers and friends in mental health awareness,” a spokesperson said.

However, Youth Focus said while it appreciated the government funding, more money was needed.

“The demand for our services is ever-increasing and with only a small percentage of our operating funding sourced from the Government, we rely heavily on the goodwill and support of the corporate and community sectors,” the organisation stated in a recent annual report.

Mental health minister Andrea Mitchell, who directed concerned parents to seek counselling from the organisation, said: “Youth Focus works with young people to help them overcome issues associated with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts by providing free, unlimited and professional face-to-face individual and family counselling.”

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

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