Geraldton plan to help youth access mental health support

Midwest Times
Y Connect stakeholders include Sarah Forsyth, Gaylene Newton, Amy Perry, Fiona Stewart, Ken Thomson and Paul Royce.
Camera IconY Connect stakeholders include Sarah Forsyth, Gaylene Newton, Amy Perry, Fiona Stewart, Ken Thomson and Paul Royce. Credit: Tamra Carr, Midwest Times

Health authorities in Geraldton have created a three-year plan aimed at helping young people who need access to mental health services.

During a recent consultation period, stakeholders were told teachers, police and youth workers don’t know how to help the mentally unwell and were worried about making situations “worse”.

Others said help was available only within work hours, leaving people to turn to emergency departments.

It was flagged that the process of getting help was confusing, uncoordinated, misunderstood and services kept “coming and going”.

Additionally, it was expressed that stigma and lack of transport were discouraging and preventing people from accessing support.

In response, WA Primary Health Alliance and stakeholders including police and schools developed Y connect, an action plan designed to better connect youth with help.

WAPHA Mid West manager Amy Perry said mental health disorders accounted for 50 per cent of health problems in young people.

“It was clear that this region needed a cohesive service response to youth mental health,” Ms Perry said.

“We galvanised support and started work almost immediately, with the new Y Connect plan the end result.”

Member for Durack Melissa Price said the goal was to increase integration and effectiveness of primary health care.

“In this case, getting our young people into the right program as soon as possible is key to ensuring they recover quickly and reduce their risk of longer-term mental health issues,” she said.

Over a three-year period, WAPHA and partners plan to install an urban art wall in Geraldton, Carnarvon, Mount Magnet, Meekatharra and the North Midlands that will feature a mental health services map.

Other planned initiatives include producing a bi-annual service directory in each region, securing free Aboriginal mental health training for people in regional and remote communities and creating a digital platform so people can connect to youth advisors.

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