Program boost for youth

Alicia PereraPilbara News

A program to tackle serious youth mental health issues in the Pilbara has started, with two full-time social workers recruited to counsel young people from across the region both in-person and via video conferencing.

Two full-time youth specialists, one based in Karratha and Roebourne and one in Port Hedland, have been appointed and started running the WA Country Health Service’s Pilbara Youth Mental Health Program as of late last month.

The new service aims to provide early intervention for Pilbara residents aged 16-24 who are at risk of developing serious mental health issues including psychosis, mood disorders, anxiety disorders or depression.

WA Country Health Service Pilbara regional director Ron Wynn said the two new staff were social workers with strong mental health experience who would work with their young patients to provide tailored management plans for their conditions. “They will, in collaboration with the young person, develop a care plan which may include counselling, vocational support and medical intervention,” he said.

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“If serious mental illness is addressed at this age, it is hoped these people can live fulfilling lives, be employed and contribute to the community.”

As well as in-person local consultations, the program will also feature video-conferencing with young people across the region and collaboration with the existing Pilbara child and adolescent and Aboriginal mental health teams.

Mental Illness Fellowship of WA chief executive Monique Williams said youth was a “vulnerable time for the development of mental health issues” when stressors such as isolation, poor physical health, substance abuse and trauma, could trigger problems.

It will receive $1.8 million funding per year as part of the broader Pilbara Mental Health Service.

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