Dig­i­tal hub help­ful for drought teens

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By NATALIE HOLMES

A new care pack­age has been cre­ated for the chil­dren of drought-af­fected farm­ing fam­i­lies, help­ing them to cope with their sit­u­a­tion.

Rea­chout CEO Ash­ley de Silva ex­plained that the dig­i­tal as­sis­tance is in the form of a web­site of­fer­ing sup­port, ad­vice and tips for cop­ing. Re­sources in­clude case stud­ies, a quiz and on­line fo­rums for young peo­ple and their par­ents.

“Rea­chout has been around for 20 years and was the world’s first on­line men­tal health ser­vice,” Mr de Silva ex­plained.

“We have a long his­tory of work­ing with young peo­ple in terms of sup­port, but this is the first time we have done a drought pack­age.”

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has en­abled this ini­tia­tive through ad­di­tional fund­ing for the ser­vice.

“This has al­lowed us to do this specif­i­cally and the web­site is for young peo­ple to share what is go­ing on in their lives in a re­ally car­ing space.”

While adults in farm­ing fam­i­lies are at the core of the is­sue, Mr de Silva said that young peo­ple are also heav­ily im­pacted by drought.

“Young peo­ple are not im­mune to the stresses of drought,” he told Dubbo Photo News. “Wor­ry­ing about their fam­ily and wor­ry­ing about the farm, ca­reer, money, all kinds of grief.” Mr de Silva (pic­tured) said that one of the chal­leng­ing com­po­nents is com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween adults and their chil­dren, which is com­pounded by the ef­fects of drought on daily life.

He said there are of­ten signs when some­one is suf­fer­ing such as changes in be­hav­iour and sleep­ing pat­terns.

“There are phys­i­cal in­di­ca­tors of a prob­lem. And com­mu­ni­ca­tion is such a strong base. Check­ing in via text, talk­ing in the car be­cause it takes the pres­sure off mak­ing eye con­tact, are a good start.”

Mr de Silva said the re­sponse to the dig­i­tal hub has been ex­cel­lent.

“The feed­back is al­ways very pos­i­tive. We take the time to make sure we are work­ing with young peo­ple. We are in drought and they are not for­got­ten.”

To ac­cess the ser­vice, visit Rea­chout.com/drought­sup­port  Learn how to spot the signs of stress

 Talk to some­one

 Look af­ter your­self

 Get sup­port

 Stay con­nected to com­mu­nity

PHOTO: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY

A lone tree stands near a wa­ter trough in a drought-ef­fected paddock near Wal­gett, in this photo taken in July this year.

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