Mandurah mental health in parliamentary spotlight

Released: The government has been forced to release details of youth mental health services in parliament.
Released: The government has been forced to release details of youth mental health services in parliament.

A list of Peel mental health services has been released by the government under questioning in state parliament revealing the extent of suicide prevention resources for youth in the region.

It is the first time the government has detailed the services in Mandurah and the Peel, where as many as 10 young people have died by suicide since December, 2015.

The government said it had refused to fund the 3-Tier suicide prevention program run by the Peel Youth Medical Service because it would replicate services already paid for by the Mental Health Commission.

The list shows there are no services headquartered in Mandurah and no full-time youth counselling services.

The list includes the Peel Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS), which is at Peel Health Campus, the CAHMS Acute Response Team, which is at Princess Margaret Hospital, Youth Focus which provides counselling at the Billy Dower Youth Centre and the Response to Suicide and Self-Harm in Schools program, which is run by Youth Focus and the Department of Education.

The list also includes telephone counselling services run by The Samaritans, Lifeline WA and Beyondblue.

Mandurah MP David Templeman said neither major party could continue to ignore the deficiencies in mental health services in the region.

“There is the constant message that we're being serviced, but then you look at the suite of services and how many are 24-hour and how many are actually acute and they are non-existent, or they are one day a week,” he said.

“So when they say you're being serviced, well they're not adequate and the other thing is, they're not preventative and that's the whole point behind the 3-Tier program.”

Department of Education director Lindsay Hale said helping to prevent suicide through supporting and educating students on their health and wellbeing was an important focus for schools, but each school would decide how to best meet the needs of students.

“Guidelines and training are available to assist school staff to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour or self-injury and ensure vulnerable students receive the appropriate care and support,” he said.

“Our school psychologists work directly with young people at risk.

“Schools also work closely with other agencies including Youth Focus and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service to prevent suicide.”

Fiona Kalaf, chief of the youth mental health non-profit Youth Focus, said her organisation delivered counselling at the Billy Dower Youth Centre and in local high schools.

“Youth Focus recently increased its provision of mental health services at the Billy Dower Youth Centre from two days a week to three days a week, starting on October 31,” she said.

“Also during the year, Alcoa of Australia provided funding for the delivery of the Year 9 School Mental Health Awareness Program at two schools.

“These sessions were attended by a total of approximately 300 students, parents and educators.

“Alcoa also funded the successful Community Mental Health Forum that was held in Mandurah last month. The forum was attended by 40 people from across the region.”

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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