Fo­cus on the fu­ture

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Front Page -

YOUTH Fo­cus is work­ing to help young peo­ple suf­fer­ing men­tal health is­sues. The not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Christ­mas ap­peal calls for all to help give the gift of a fu­ture to those who need help.

FOR some, the Christ­mas hol­i­days can be hard, not a time of joy but of iso­la­tion.

Bur­swood based non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Youth Fo­cus works to help peo­ple who are strug­gling with men­tal health prob­lems. Peo­ple like Michael.

Michael first reached out to Youth Fo­cus in Fe­bru­ary last year as a quiet, friendly but ex­hausted teenager.

He shared he was tired all the time be­cause he barely slept, could not at­tend school be­cause of in­som­nia and felt each morn­ing was more dif­fi­cult than the last.

Of­ten he would lie in bed, star­ing at the ceil­ing un­til 4am only to fall asleep for two hours be­fore get­ting up for school.

He at­tended school only once or twice a week, find­ing that when he did, he was so tired he couldn’t con­cen­trate.

The year prior, he’d been sui- cidal and had been ad­mit­ted to Bent­ley Ado­les­cent Unit with no hope he’d re­cover.

He couldn’t re­call a time he had not ex­pe­ri­enced de­bil­i­tat­ing anx­i­ety, the kind that stopped him breath­ing, think­ing and act­ing.

He would have th­ese anx­i­ety at­tacks sev­eral times a week and didn’t know how to make them stop.

Youth Fo­cus ex­plored his fam­ily back­ground, re­veal­ing a history of men­tal health prob­lems.

His fa­ther had be­come schiz­o­phrenic af­ter a drug over­dose years ago and his mother ex­pe­ri­enced over­whelm­ing anx­i­ety.

She would reach out for Michael to help her mood, and while he wanted to help, he be­gan to take on his mother’s fears, thoughts of sui­cide and volatile emo­tions.

Michael’s younger brother suf­fered from autism; he had not spo­ken for months.

His older brother was so de­bil­i­tated by anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion he barely left his room.

None of the broth­ers had spo­ken for al­most a year.

Michael knew he wanted to get an ed­u­ca­tion, free him­self from his emo­tions and not be afraid any­more.

He worked with a Youth Fo­cus coun­sel­lor for over a year, ex­plor­ing his dreams and learn­ing to man­age his emo­tions.

He learnt to re­lax and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and dis­cov­ered a pas­sion for lit­er­a­ture.

Sud­denly the world looked dif­fer­ent to Michael and he knew he had a fu­ture worth liv­ing.

He has cho­sen to be­come a youth worker, and wants to use his ex­pe­ri­ences and com­pas­sion to help other young peo­ple move more joy­fully through life.

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