Northam is set to have its own headspace facility as part of a new mental health strategy for Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region.

The new headspace centre will be opened by mental health not-for-profit Youth Focus and will be run via satellite from the Midland headspace three days a week.

From the middle of the year, the Northam headspace will have three core support streams: mental health, drug and alcohol, and employment support.

WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) has invested $400,000 of capital into the new Northam centre as well as funding for the next two years at $385,000 per year.

The second of two new services to be installed in the region, February already saw the creation of the Wheatbelt Youth Severe Service.

A collaboration between Youth Focus and Northam-based community organisation Avon Community Services, the service is targeting young people at risk of mental ill-health including chronic anxiety and depression.

Also funded by WAPHA, Wheatbelt Youth Severe Service provides free counselling in Moora and Narrogin.

Amid current COVID-19 restrictions, face-to-face counselling has been replaced by online and telephone counselling. Services have also been expanded in the region to provide further support during the pandemic.

Youth Focus CEO Arthur Papakotsias said the two services would deliver much-needed support to young people in the Wheatbelt, particularly First Nations young people.

“We know that young Indigenous people are more likely than non-Indigenous people to take their own lives so we need to think differently about community engagement and how we start conversations about mental health and wellbeing.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 4.1 percent of the Wheatbelt population—well over the 2.8 percent that represents the national population.

Avon Community Services Manager Darren Warland said the region has a great need for more mental health support services. 

The organisation already runs mentoring programs and diversional activities, as well as having a drop-in centre. However, it is not enough.

“In any given month we see more than 300 young people through our programs in Northam, Moora, Narrogin and Merredin. Many of these young people are facing significant life challenges, including homelessness, drug and substance abuse; and domestic violence,” Warland said.

“By working with Youth Focus and linking young people with specialist services, we can have a positive effect—not only on the individual themselves, but local communities as well.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental ill-health, call or visit the online resources below:

 

By Hannah Cross