HELPING YOUTH: Rebecca Woods, Tamara Noble, Christine Franklin and guests at the meeting on Tuesday.
HELPING YOUTH: Rebecca Woods, Tamara Noble, Christine Franklin and guests at the meeting on Tuesday.

Fighting youth mental health

THE Whitsunday youth spoke, and people listened.

Stigma, bullying, awareness and stress are the main issues youth want addressed to combat youth mental health and professionals are ready to do just that.

On Saturday, May 21, a youth mental health forum was held in Proserpine to give youths aged 14-25 a chance to speak out about what they believed needed to be done to help youth mental health.

Youth who attended the forum as well as kids from schools in Collinsville, Bowen, Proserpine, Cannonvale and from groups across the region were invited to participate in an online survey which was open from May 2 to June 24.

On Tuesday, Rebecca Woods and Tamara Noble from the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre and Christine Franklin from Sybella Health held a meeting with mental health professionals, school educators, youth workers and councillors to share and discuss results derived from the survey.

Of the 86 respondents, the survey found 40.96% of youths believed being mentally healthy was important.

Of those, 30.95% said they felt mentally healthy 'often' while 7.14% said they 'never' did.

The survey revealed 45 respondents wanted to learn more tips on how to improve mental health while 40 wanted to know how they could help someone who needed mental health support.

Ms Woods said there was one finding which particularly stood out.

"The biggest finding we had there was around stigma, which has always been an issue with mental health," she said.

"It was also around the lack of education and not just to do with youth and how to deal with issues that impact with their mental health day to day but also with parents and how they're coping with things."

Government statistics show suicide is the leading cause of death for both adult males and females aged 15-44 years while intentional self-harm is the leading cause of death for those aged 10-24.

Queensland has the highest number of suicides in a 15-24 year-old age group in Australia and one in 10 young people have engaged in self harming behaviour.

A booklet which will include all the findings from the survey will be distributed to schools, youth mental health workers, social workers, counsellors and sponsors in the region. To view full results visit www.ymhwhitsundays.org.au/forum-event.


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