Peel community forums on youth mental health

February 8th, 2018

Youth Focus will host three mental health forums across the Peel region in February in an effort to help parents, carers, teachers and community members better support young people.

Sponsored by Alcoa of Australia, the interactive forums will teach participants how to identify the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, ways to start a conversation about mental health and the barriers to seeking help.

Forums will be held in at Bendigo Bank Stadium, Mandurah on February 20, Pinjarra Paceway on February 27 and the Waroona Community Resource Centre on February 28.

Presented by leading WA youth mental health professionals, the sessions will feature a screening of Fathom, a thought-provoking short film about a young father and musician struggling with depression, followed by a panel discussion.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said statistics showed one in four young Australians lived with a mental health condition.

“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 vital to address these issues,” Ms Kalaf said.

Latest statistics show 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in Western Australia in 2016. For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

Ms Kalaf said the Alcoa of Australia partnership had enabled Youth Focus to initiate relationships with young people through Peel schools and outreach centres.

Alcoa of Australia funds youth mental health counselling, including one counsellor in the Peel region. Alcoa also provides funding for the Peel community mental health forums and the ground-breaking Young Men’s Project, which will take place in Peel in April.

“Youth Focus supporters like Alcoa are invaluable in helping us continue our important work to prevent youth suicide, which, sadly, is the biggest killer of young Australians,” Ms Kalaf said.

“It is largely due to the generosity of individuals and companies that we are able to provide young people with critical counselling services as well as suicide prevention education in schools. Without this, we would not be able to continue to support and care for some of our most vulnerable young people.”

Alcoa of Australia Managing Director Michael Parker said Alcoa was proud to be a long-term partner of Youth Focus.

“Mental health issues are a significant challenge of our modern life, with every family touched in some way. It is critical that we all play a part in supporting each other, raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness in our communities,” Mr Parker said.

“Alcoa values the vital services Youth Focus provides in the Peel region to help build strength, capacity and resilience in our young people, while also providing a direct service to local schools and impacted families.

“Youth Focus is finding real solutions to tackle mental health and we are very proud to be on the journey with them.”

Each year, Youth Focus supports around 3000 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and outreach programs in schools.

The Peel events start at 6pm and run until 7.30pm. To register, call 6266 4348 or email events@youthfocus.com.au.

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.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au

 

New website to help as students return to school

January 31st, 2018

One of Western Australia’s leading youth mental health providers has launched its new website to help young people better connect with vital support and counselling services.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said the website, which launches today as thousands of Western Australian students return to school, would deliver valuable resources for young people seeking mental health support.

“We know that half of all young people with mental health issues seek support from the internet. And we know that stress and anxiety in young people can increase at the start of the new school year, when teenagers transition into Years 11 and 12 or move to new schools,” Ms Kalaf said.

“This new website will improve our ability to support young people. It will help remove barriers for people with disabilities, allow appointment requests and referrals and offer useful resources, tools and information for people seeking help for themselves or others.

“Importantly, the brief for the new Youth Focus website was created by young people, for young people. We value this input and have taken the feedback on board to ensure the information and functions of our new website are useful to young Western Australians.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with latest statistics showing 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA in 2016.

A 2015 Federal Government survey into child and adolescent mental health starkly revealed that, on average, one child in every Australian classroom had attempted suicide.

The survey found that one in 13 teenagers had contemplated suicide, one in 20 had made a plan and one in 40 had attempted to take their own life.

Ms Kalaf said suicide was the most preventable cause of death in young people.

“Youth Focus is committed to working in partnership with other agencies, both locally and nationally, to invest in the lives of young people,” she said.

“We strive to prevent youth suicide, but improving the mental health of young people starts at a community level.

“At this time of the year, we encourage parents to take time to understand what is happening in their child’s life and help them to reduce any stress, anxiety, high expectations or triggers to mental ill-health, such as bullying.

“Research shows it is important to make young people feel safe and give them the time and space to express how they are feeling.

“As a community, we need to do all we can to help turn the tide on the unacceptably high number of young people who think that ending their life is their only option.”

Each year, Youth Focus supports around 3000 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.

Perth Fringe show to donate funds to Youth Focus

January 25th, 2018

A West Perth actor, playwright and musician has pledged to donate half the profits of her Perth Fringe World show, Audiotherapy, to Youth Focus to help provide more counselling and mental health support for young people.

Sun-Mi Clyburn, 28, who has lived with chronic depression for most of her adult life, said she was acutely aware of the personal and financial hurdles young people faced in accessing adequate, effective and ongoing treatment.

Through local theatre company, Fairly Random Inc, Clyburn has teamed with Rockingham singer-songwriter Melyssa Devenny, who was recently diagnosed with bipolar after years of misdiagnosis. Using storytelling and music, Audiotherapy is a largely a personal account of Clyburn’s experience of depression, recovery and relapse – and the difference a true friend can make to the journey.

“Mental health is an important subject to most people who have been actively involved in our company Fairly Random Inc over the years and many of us have struggled personally with mental illness,” Clyburn said.

“There is a great need for resources, treatment and mental health support that makes real and tangible differences to young people’s lives rather than just ‘awareness raising campaigns’.

“We wanted to support an organisation that provides practical and sustainable support and have chosen Youth Focus as a beneficiary of our performances because we believe they make a huge impact supporting young people through their mental health issues.”

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said Youth Focus supporters were invaluable in helping the organisation continue its important work to prevent youth suicide.

Ms Kalaf said suicide was the most preventable cause of death in young people and the figures were unacceptably high. Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with latest statistics showing 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in Western Australia in 2016.

For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

“We value greatly community members like Sun-Mi and Melyssa who selflessly give up their time and energy to fundraise to help benefit the lives of young people in our community,” Ms Kalaf said.

“It is largely due to the generosity of individuals and companies that we are able to provide young people with critical counselling services as well as suicide prevention education in schools.

“Without this kindness, we would not be able to continue to support and care for some of Perth’s most vulnerable young people.”

Each year, Youth Focus supports around 3000 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and outreach programs in schools.

Audiotherapy runs from February 2 to February 6 at The Loungeroom at The Moon in Northbridge as part of Perth Fringe World 2018 Festival.

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.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au

Community urged to support youth suicide appeal

December 10th, 2017

A Dawesville mother whose 14-year-old son took his own life has embraced an emotive new appeal to raise funds and awareness about the devastating impact of youth suicide.

Speaking just days before the second anniversary of Terry Scott’s death, Danielle Edwards said she had been compelled to share her deeply personal experience of losing her eldest son to suicide.

It comes as Youth Focus today launches its summer fundraising drive in a bid to help more young people with mental illnesses and those at risk of suicide.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with statistics showing 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in Western Australia last year.

For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

Using an emotive message, Youth Focus’s thought-provoking fundraising campaign asks the community: “What would you give?” to save a life. Money raised through the appeal in December and January will help Youth Focus continue its work to provide free, unlimited counselling sessions for young people and education programs in WA schools.

“Losing a child to suicide is horrific,” Danielle said. “We need emotive messages like this campaign to help overcome the terrible epidemic of youth suicide.

“People think it won’t happen to them. But it does. It happened to me.

“As a community we need to share the responsibility, talk openly and do everything we can to ensure our young people have the help they need.”

The mother-of-five said Terry’s death on December 12, 2015 had been difficult to reconcile because there had been no warning signs. Terry told his family he was going for a walk after breakfast. It was the last time they saw him alive.

“That morning it was a normal Saturday morning. We had breakfast together like we always did, sitting around having a chat and a laugh,” she said.

“There had been no big argument or anything untoward that had happened. He was doing brilliantly at school. There were no signs, there were no symptoms. Terry went out after breakfast and made the decision to take his own life.

“He didn’t have this tumultuous upbringing, he had a good home life, he never wanted for anything. He could not have been any more loved.

“Even that morning I remember standing in the hallway and saying to him: ‘You’re so bloody handsome’ and giving him a big kiss – and that’s the last time I told him I loved him and the last time he spoke to me, because after that, he was gone.”

Danielle said she had openly discussed the issue of suicide with Terry.

“I had discussed with Terry at length about if he had any feelings, he could talk to me or his grandad or stepdad who he was also very close to. But it still didn’t matter,” she said.

“I say to kids out there if you are having these feelings, if you are struggling, please, please seek help. There are people who care and people who can help. If you don’t have someone you trust to speak to, organisations like Youth Focus can help.”

Danielle said she had been driven to highlight the massive social issue of youth suicide after her personal experience and through her work as a nurse.

“This isn’t just personal for me, it’s professional too because I see it from both angles. I see the frustration from the parents, I see what we do at work and then I have the grief and the empathy from a mother’s perspective.

“I wouldn’t wish this pain on any parent. The grief that goes along with it, it is forever.

“I have great respect for the work of Youth Focus. Youth Focus isn’t about finding these signs and symptoms and ticking a box, it’s about finding out what’s going on with these kids, why are they getting to this point? And that, to me, is really important.

“If a patient comes in with a broken leg, I can plaster that leg and the patient is on their way. With mental health, it is nowhere near that easy. It takes months of effort and time and the support of the community and family networks.”

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said suicide was the most preventable cause of death in young people and the figures were too high.

“Unacceptably, suicide is the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25,” Ms Kalaf said.

Ms Kalaf urged the WA community get behind the Youth Focus summer appeal, citing that the organisation had provided care to more than 20,000 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and outreach programs in schools since 2000.

“Through our supporters, sponsors and partnerships, Youth Focus supports around 3000 young people every year,” she said.

“It is largely due to the generosity of individuals and companies that we are able to provide young people with critical counselling services as well as suicide prevention education in schools.

“Without the kindness of the community, we would not be able to continue to support and care for some of Perth’s most vulnerable young people.”

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.

 

 

 

Youth Focus launches new branding to better connect

November 16th, 2017

Youth Focus has unveiled its dynamic, approachable new identity in a bid to better engage and connect with young people, amid statistics that show suicide is the leading cause of death in young people in Western Australia.

The brand launch comes as Youth Focus thanked the important contributions of its supporters who help turn the tide on youth suicide, announcing the winners of the 2017 Make A Difference Awards on Wednesday night.

“Youth Focus is excited to enter its next stage with an engaging new identity that resonates more strongly with young people,” Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said.

“This brand has been developed off the back of considerable research and in consultation with young people. As such, it’s a reflection of the safe space Youth Focus provides for young people to learn and grow.”

In announcing the organisation’s annual Progress Report 2016/17 at the event, Ms Kalaf said Youth Focus remained steadfast in its aim to reduce youth suicide.

“Our latest Progress Report shows Youth Focus in a strong position financially and well positioned to continue our tireless work to reduce youth suicide,” she said.

“Last financial year, Youth Focus’s revenue grew 3 per cent, reflecting a growth in donations from a range of fundraising events including our iconic Hawaiian Ride for Youth and Night of Nights Ball driven by Audi.

“Our financial surplus of $600,000 will allow Youth Focus to take on a range of new initiatives and improve efficiencies as we work towards our Strategic Plan 2017-2020.”
In WA last year, 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives. “Despite WA’s suicide rate dropping last year, suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Each week, we lose at least one young person in WA to suicide. The ripple effect in the community is profound, and, as a consequence at least one family a week is forced to deal with the abject grief, guilt and pain of losing a loved one unnecessarily.”

Ms Kalaf said Youth Focus supporters, including this year’s Make A Difference Award winners, were “invaluable” in helping the organisation continue its important work.

“These people are the unsung heroes who day in, day out devote their time to helping young people and Youth Focus, whether it be by raising money, organising fundraising ventures, mentoring young people or helping to share awareness about the massive social issue of suicide,” Ms Kalaf said.

“We value greatly the vast number of Youth Focus supporters who selflessly give up their time and energy to benefit the lives of young people in our community.

“These contributions make positive differences to young people’s lives and have a meaningful impact on our community.”

The annual Make A Difference Awards are presented to individuals and organisations who have displayed drive and compassion in their support for the important work of Youth Focus.

Eight awards were presented to worthy recipients from all walks of life at a special presentation ceremony at Fraser’s, Kings Park.

In the year to June 30, 2017, Youth Focus supported 2872 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and school outreach programs.

In addition, Youth Focus engaged with more than 6000 people through school and workplace sessions, teaching vital skills and the confidence to talk openly about mental health issues and encourage people to seek help for themselves and others.

Youth Focus pays tribute to its supporters

November 16th, 2017

Youth Focus has thanked the important contributions of its many supporters who help turn the tide on youth suicide, announcing the winners of the 2017 Make A Difference Awards on Wednesday night.

Eight awards were presented to worthy recipients from all walks of life at a special presentation ceremony at Fraser’s, Kings Park.

The annual Make A Difference Awards are presented to individuals and organisations who have displayed drive and compassion in their support for the important work of Youth Focus.

The awards come as Youth Focus unveiled its dynamic, approachable new identity in a bid to better engage and connect with young people, amid statistics that show suicide is the leading cause of death in young people in Western Australia.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said Youth Focus supporters were invaluable in helping the organisation continue its important work.

“These people are the unsung heroes who day in, day out devote their time to helping young people and Youth Focus, whether it be by raising money, organising fundraising ventures, mentoring young people or helping to share awareness about the massive social issue of suicide,” Ms Kalaf said.

“We value greatly the vast number of Youth Focus supporters who selflessly give up their time and energy to benefit the lives of young people in our community.

“These contributions make positive differences to young people’s lives and have a meaningful impact on our community.”

Statistics show that 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in WA last year.

“Despite WA’s suicide rate dropping last year, suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Each week, we lose at least one young person in WA to suicide. The ripple effect in the community is profound, and, as a consequence at least one family a week is forced to deal with the abject grief, guilt and pain of losing a loved one unnecessarily.”

In announcing the organisation’s annual Progress Report 2016/17 at the event, Ms Kalaf said Youth Focus remained steadfast in its aim to reduce youth suicide. “Our latest Progress Report shows Youth Focus in a strong position financially and well positioned to continue our tireless work to reduce youth suicide,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Youth Focus is excited to enter its next stage with an engaging new identity that resonates more strongly with young people.

“This brand has been developed off the back of considerable research and in consultation with young people. As such, it’s a reflection of the safe space Youth Focus provides for young people to learn and grow.”

In the year to June 30, 2017, Youth Focus supported 2872 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and school outreach programs.

In addition, the Youth Focus engaged with more than 6000 people through school and workplace sessions, teaching vital skills and the confidence to talk openly about mental health issues and encourage people to seek help for themselves and others.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE AWARD WINNERS 2017

Employee Award: Nikki Peapell (headspace Midland) – Nikki is a well-respected clinician who has forged positive professional relationships, not only within headspace, but also with stakeholders in the wider community. A caring and supportive leader who keeps her clinical team grounded, she supports staff to provide quality services to clients while gaining skills and knowledge.

Community Leader Award: James Sutherland – James volunteers his time as a mentor to young people through Youth Focus, placing a pivotal role on early intervention of mental health issues. He provides himself as a resource to help transition clients from counselling into the real world.

Peter and Debra Prendiville – For the past seven years, The Prendiville Group has hosted Polo in the Valley at their Duncraig Stud in the Swan Valley, generously supporting Youth Focus by donating $100,000 each year.

Media Award: Carrie Cox – Freelance journalist, Carrie, wrote a powerful feature article for the West Weekend Magazine called The Long Ride Home which highlighted the 2017 Hawaiian Ride for Youth cycling event and three West Australians – two riders and a 17-year-old girl – with different stories about their mental health experiences. Judges said: “Carrie’s passion about educating the wider community on the issues surrounding mental health resulted in a body of work that was accurate, sensitive and compelling”.

Corporate Social Responsibility Award: Mineral Resources – Since 2014, Mineral Resources has contributed $200,000 a year to support Youth Focus services in WA. The current partnership extends to 2019. Through its partnership with Youth Focus, Mineral Resources has shown commitment to enhancing the mental health literacy and understanding of its employees.

Lavan – As the naming rights sponsor of the Lavan Fit30, Lavan led by example with registrations, encouraging their clients and corporate colleagues to participate in the fitness challenge. Lavan was instrumental in a redesign of the event to ensure it was community focussed and inclusive to maximise its leverage and fundraising for the Youth Focus cause.

Youth Award: Jared Stone – Jared was appointed as a Youth Focus Ambassador in 2016, and has taken a leadership role in raising the profile of youth mental health in Australia. Jared is a passionate individual who gives back by sharing his experiences and acknowledging that mental illness does not stop anyone from being successful in their own right.

Geoff Rasmussen Corporate Citizen Award: Russell Gibbs – As the Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian, Russell has supported Youth Focus in a raft of fundraising events from the Hawaiian Ride for Youth to the Night of Nights Ball. Russell is the ambassador for the Hawaiian Ride for Youth CEO Challenge, which continues to attract new riders each year. Through his involvement in the ride, Russell has helped Youth Focus raise more than $17 million over 15 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youth Focus praises “yes” vote on same-sex marriage

November 16th, 2017

Youth Focus has welcomed today’s overwhelming “YES” vote for marriage equality in Australia, saying the result will play a role in reducing the risk of suicide in the community.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released results of the national postal survey on same-sex marriage this morning at 7am (WDST), revealing that 61.6% of clear responses had voted “yes” to marriage equality, while 38.4% recorded a clear “no” vote. A total of 79.5% of eligible Australian voters took part in the survey.

Youth Focus General Manager of Community Engagement Chris Harris said the result was a positive outcome that would help reduce discrimination against Australia’s LGBTIQ community.

“There is no shadow of a doubt that legalising same-sex marriage will go some way to reducing suicide rates in this group,” Mr Harris said.

“Any legislation that promotes a sense of belonging and negates a sense of devaluing certain groups in our community is a protective measure that can reduce suicide.

“This outcome will serve to promote social development and social protectors in our community and is, not the least, a fair decision that aligns with basic human rights values.”

In WA, suicide remains the leading cause of death for children aged between five and 17 and young adults aged from 18 to 25. Of the 371 people who died in WA after taking their own lives, 54 were young people aged between 15 and 24.

Research shows that same-sex attracted people are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition and five times more likely to make a suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers.

“Like many other mental health services in Australia, Youth Focus has been concerned about the negative health impacts caused by discrimination against LGBTIQ people,” Mr Harris said.

“For some young people the debate about same-sex marriage has been an emotional process, with reports of young people being exposed to judgement and personal attacks about their sexuality, as well as confusion and anxiety.

“Suicide is the most preventable cause of death in young people and it is not acceptable that any young person believes that ending their life is a preferred choice.

“Laws that promote equality and make members of the community feel positive and valued are a protective factor against suicide.

“As an organisation that is dedicated to creating brighter futures for all young people, Youth Focus is pleased with this outcome.”

In September, five leading youth mental health organisations released collaborative research showing that up to 3000 youth suicide attempts could be averted each year with a “YES” vote for marriage equality.

The #mindthefacts campaign was a collaboration between the Black Dog Institute, headspace, ReachOut, Brain and Mind Centre at University of Sydney and Orygen, the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health. Youth Focus is the lead agency for four headspace centres in Western Australia: Albany, Geraldton and Midland; and the Midland Youth Early Psychosis Program.

In the year to June, Youth Focus supported 2872 young people through free, unlimited counselling services and school outreach programs.

Youth Focus is an independent Western Australian not-for-profit working to reduce youth suicide. Through free, unlimited face-to-face individual counselling sessions and other valuable mental health services, Youth Focus works with young people aged from 12 to 25 helping them to overcome issues associated with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal ideation.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au

Mental health as important as physical wellbeing

October 11th, 2017

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.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:
Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
nicole.cox@youthfocus.com.au