Pro­gram helps youth in need

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

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.

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