Young Mayo campaigns for 'headspace' mental health service

Young Mayo campaigns for 'headspace' mental health service

Federal MP Rebekha Sharkie’s Young Mayo group is campaigning to bring the specialist youth mental health service ‘headspace’ to the Hills in the wake of alarming suicide statistics from the region.

Young Mayo launched a petition on the Member for Mayo’s website this week and the NXT MP gave a speech about the campaign in Federal Parliament yesterday.

“Recent statistics show that 15 out of every 100 people in the Mt Barker regional area suffer from mental health related issues,” Ms Sharkie told Parliament.

“Even more concerning is that between 2008 and 2012 the suicide rate in Mt Barker was the highest in SA.

“Given the rapid expansion of the Mt Barker population since 2012, it is long overdue that the Federal Government recognises the immediate need for mental health services in our region.”

Ms Sharkie was referring to statistics collated in a report by Country SA Primary Health Networks.

“Through my office’s dealings with health groups we know more than 800 young people in Mayo seriously considered taking their own lives last year while more than 250 attempted to do so,” she said today.

“That’s heartbreaking. We need to talk about this as a community, and act.”

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.

The closest headspace accessible to Mayo young people is in Murray Bridge.

Young Mayo member Verity Castleton said that was too far away.

“We talked about a lot of things in our first few Young Mayo meetings but mental health was something we all felt was really important,” the 18-year-old Mt Barker resident said.

“headspace is a service designed for youth but the closest service to our region is in Murray Bridge or the city.

“That’s too far if you don’t have a car and you have to rely on limited public transport.

“Mt Barker is really growing and we need something here.”

Ms Sharkie said population forecasts predicted that the number of residents living in the Mt Barker district would grow from about 30,000 in 2017 to 50,000 by 2036, with a greater proportion of youth compared with metropolitan Adelaide.

“Mt Barker already has an above average proportion of young people under the age of 18, standing at 26 per cent compared with 21 per cent in greater Adelaide,” she said.

Ms Sharkie said headspace had a good track record for removing the stigma surrounding mental health, especially among vulnerable young people.

“Bringing a headspace to the Adelaide Hills was Young Mayo’s priority issue,” she said.

“They are now running a petition to lobby for the service and I urge everyone to join the conversation by signing your support.”

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.