Program helps youth in need
A program designed to tackle youth mental health issues in the Pilbara is in its final stage of development and could start by the end of the year.
The WA Country Health Service is recruiting two youth specialists for the Pilbara Youth Mental Health Program, designed to provide early intervention for people aged 16-24 at risk of developing mental health issues, including psychosis, mood disorders, anxiety disorders or depression.
WA Country Health Service regional director Ron Wynn said the program had reached “the final stage of design” with the recruitment process.
“The State Government has allocated $1.8 million a year to (the) WA Country Health Service Youth Mental Health program, which will be run from the Pilbara ... with some additional clinical services provided across the WACHS regions using telemental health or video conferencing,” he said.
“We are currently recruiting two full-time youth professionals who have worked with young people.
“One will be based in Karratha/ Roebourne and the other in Port Hedland.”
“These new staff will work in an integrated way with the existing Pilbara Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service and Aboriginal Mental Health multidisciplinary teams to provide targeted care for this client group.”
Mr Wynn said the program would also feature video-conferencing for the specialists to hold face-to-face consultations with young people across the region and support from a part-time child and adolescent psychiatrist.
Labor Member for Mining and Pastoral Stephen Dawson said the state of mental health services in the Pilbara was “shocking” compared to the level of demand, and young people were one of the most at-risk groups.
“Better mental health services for young people are vital to a region like the Pilbara, given the social isolation often faced by residents in regional WA,” he said.
“The reality is that we don’t have as many things to do as the city does, we don’t have the same job opportunities and we don’t have the same number of organisations on the ground that young people can talk to.”
A sub-acute step-up, step-down mental health centre slated for Karratha by the State Government in 2014 is also progressing, but the expected operating date has been pushed back from 2016-17 to mid-2018.
The six-bed facility will provide short-term residential care and treatment for people with mental health issues not severe enough for hospitalisation.
A Mental Health Commission spokeswoman said the centre had been allocated funding in the 2016-17 Budget and the planned location was Lot 623 Gawthorne Drive, Karratha.
At present the closest acute mental health care facility for Pilbara residents is the Broome Mental Health Unit.
Mr Dawson said the sub-acute centre had already been put off for several years and there was “a real need” for it to be built urgently.