Mental health as important as physical wellbeing

Strengthening mental health literacy and continuing frank, open conversations is the key to supporting communities, a Youth Focus Mental Health Week breakfast heard this morning.

Mental Health and Health Minister Roger Cook told the gathering at Fraser’s Restaurant, Kings Park, that Mental Health Week provided an opportunity to continue open conversations about mental health among the wider community.

“One of the great challenges that we meet, both in health and mental health, is health and mental health literacy in our community,” Mr Cook said.

“Unless we can continue to bring the community with us, unless we can continue to raise the level of awareness and empower the mental health consumer, we will continue to struggle to deal with the sort of issues that are impacting our community.”

The breakfast was hosted by Youth Focus during Mental Health Week, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. Mental Health Week is an important annual event that aims to raise community awareness and understanding about mental health issues.

WA Primary Health Alliance Chief Executive Officer Learne Durrington, Alcoa Alumina’s Brian Doy and youth mental health advocate Brehany Shanahan led a panel discussion about how workplaces are fostering greater investment in mental health to increase productivity and why mental health should attract the same importance as physical health.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said Mental Health Week was an important event that aimed to raise critical awareness and understanding about mental health issues.

“In Australia, one in four young people are living with a mental health condition,” Ms Kalaf said.

“We know that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first appear in people under the age of 25 so early intervention and creating supportive, compassionate communities is paramount to address this.”

Statistics show that seven Australians die by suicide each day, and 140 more make an attempt. In WA last year, 371 people died after taking their own lives, including 54 aged between 15 and 24.

“Statistics show more than one young person each week and at least one family every week is dealing with the abject grief, guilt and pain of losing a loved one unnecessarily to suicide,” Ms Kalaf said. “The ripple effect in our community is profound.”

Since 2000, Youth Focus has provided care to more than 20,000 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and outreach programs in schools.

If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.


Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443



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