Focus on the future
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.