Local candidate for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has launched a campaign to bring the specialist youth service ‘headspace’ to the South Coast to fill a significant gap in mental health assistance for young people.
Local candidate for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, centre, discusses her campaign to bring a 'shop front' headspace mental health service to the Fleurieu with Eastern Fleurieu School Strathalbyn student Ebony Brackstone, left, Victor Harbor High School students Matthew Pajer and Jorja Hann-Barke and Investigator College students (and sisters) Isabella and Gabby Cook.
Announcing her campaign after the Community Youth Mental Health Forum in Victor Harbor on Thursday, Rebekha said it was clear that the region’s young people were falling through the cracks in the existing health system that mainly focussed on acute care rather than prevention and early intervention.
“Yesterday's forum has just confirmed what I came to learn about youth mental health on the South Coast when I was the Member for Mayo,” Rebekha said.
“Through my office’s dealings with health groups we know that one in five young people in Australia suffer from a serious mental illness, that suicide is the leading cause of death for young people and that for every young person who takes their own life there are up to 200 suicide attempts.
“We need to act to address this as a community and we need to work to bring a true shop front ‘headspace’ to this area.
“I know the Mount Barker ‘headspace’ outreach visits the South Coast to assist clients but it’s clear we need more. We need a permanent presence.
“When I was the Member I worked with my Hills-based youth advisory group, Young Mayo, to petition and advocate for a ‘headspace’ in that region and I want to do the same with the young people on the South Coast.”
‘headspace’ is the Federal Government’s mental health service for young people.
It provides early intervention services for 12-25 year olds in a youth-friendly environment, connecting them with the services they need.
Country SA Primary Health Networks set up a satellite ‘headspace’ in Mount Barker in December 2017 following advocacy work by Rebekha.
“headspace is a service designed for young people but the closest shop front service to our region is in Murray Bridge or Noarlunga,” Rebekha said.
“That’s too far if you don’t have a car and you have to rely on limited public transport.
“Like Mount Barker, the Victor Harbor to Goolwa area is growing fast with many young families moving to the coast.
“We need to plan for the changing needs of our community and addressing the mental health challenges of our young people is one of these critical issues.”
If you are experiencing mental health issues, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or visit beyondblue.org.au.