Mental health service finally in place for youth

Collie Family Centre program manager Sharon Thompson told the Mail last year that youth mental health situation had become "dire", but they didn't have any funding to support a service.
Collie Family Centre program manager Sharon Thompson told the Mail last year that youth mental health situation had become "dire", but they didn't have any funding to support a service.

After continuous calls from the community and health experts to increase youth mental health services in town, the Collie Family Centre are now offering a free counselling service for young people. 

Collie Family Centre program manager Sharon Thompson told the Mail last year that the situation had become "dire", but they didn't have any funding to support a service. 

Last year the centre applied for a $50,000 grant from the Collie and Districts Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank to go towards funding a free counselling service, specifically for youth aged 10 to 16, or younger if highly requested.  

The bank's board met and after much deliberation gave the centre half of what they asked for. 

We found there was a really big need for mental health counselling for youth aged 10 to 16.

Collie Family Centre program manager Sharon Thompson

Previously, the centre could only support youth 16 and above due to the lack of funding. 

Apart from the Child and Parent Centre providing support for children aged up to eight years old and Youth Focus providing a counselling service at Collie Senior High School for one day a week for students only, there was nothing in place for the 9 - 16-year-old age bracket. 

Ms Thompson said she was thankful the Bendigo Bank supporting the centre with a $25,000 grant.

"We found there was a really big need for mental health counselling for youth aged 10 to 16," she said.

"They were falling through that gap and a lot of them were travelling to Bunbury for help and the financial stress on the family, and transport issues, and them leaving school for the day.

"It takes a lot out of their routine with what they're already dealing with."

Data released last year by the yourtown’s Kids Helpline showed suicide-related contacts had risen by 22 percent nationwide since 2012, with an 8 percent increase in Western Australia.

They were falling through that gap and a lot of them were travelling to Bunbury for help and the financial stress on the family, and transport issues, and them leaving school for the day.

Collie Family Centre program manager Sharon Thompson

Ms Thompson said at the moment the youth counselling service would run for one day a week from the centre, with the option at extending it, depending on the demand. 

"We are just testing to see what demands are coming through and if we need to open on Saturday mornings. We just have to get feedback from the parents on the timeline," she said. 

Ms Thompson said she has also approached Headspace at possibly coming to the centre to run a workshop with youth. 

Collie and Districts Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank director Ian Miffling said the bank was happy to support the centre and hoped more organisations would jump on board and do the same. 

"There is a great need for counselling in town and anything that can help, particularly that younger generation is beneficial to the community," he said.

"The board has been very receptive. We first got involved with the centre back in 2011 for counselling.

There is a great need for counselling in town and anything that can help, particularly that younger generation is beneficial to the community.

Collie and Districts Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank director Ian Miffling

"If you can get counselling to the kids earlier, then hopefully, by the time they get to 16 they are better equipped to deal with their mental health and know how to ask for help."

Over the past nine years the bank has given the centre a total of $175,000 towards free counselling services, but it's the first time it will be used specifically to help support youth. 

Ex-Collie Senior High School student and Youth Leadership Academy Australia founder Wil Massara said a service like this one was vital to have in this day and age.

"One of our big messages in the youth leadership mental health space is that it's okay not to be okay, and so, the age gap is really big to have services missing," he said. 

"Having a free counselling service available for ages 10 to 16 will make it really good and beneficial to the community and well-being of the citizens."

One of our big messages in the youth leadership mental health space is that it's okay not to be okay, and so, the age gap is really big to have services missing.

Youth Leadership Academy Australia founder Wil Massara

Collie Leos Club president Blayne Emmett said there are so many teenagers in Collie that were needing help and weren't getting the support they need.

Collie Leos Club president Blayne Emmett and vice president Dana Coomber said the new counselling service for youth would be great to bridge the gap and support those in need. Photo: Breeanna Tirant.

Collie Leos Club president Blayne Emmett and vice president Dana Coomber said the new counselling service for youth would be great to bridge the gap and support those in need. Photo: Breeanna Tirant.

"It will just be great for them to be able to talk to someone and get the right help and treatment that they need," he said. 

"Most of the people here that do have things that they're going through aren't coming from the most supportive households. 

Most of the people here that do have things that they're going through aren't coming from the most supportive households.

Collie Leos Club president Blayne Emmett

"Some kids don't like talking to their family members and want to do it on their own, so it's not as easy to go up to their family and jump in the car to go to Bunbury."

Collie Leos Club vice president Dana Coomber said she personally experiences anxiety and depression.  

"When I lived in Queensland I had a lot of mental health issues, anxiety and depression, and having counselling in the town that I lived in was good so we didn't have to drive to Brisbane. We could just stay where we were," she said. 

"I moved over to Collie by myself to live with my auntie and have improved since then, but everyday I still think to myself I will have to wait on the big long waiting list to go to Bunbury to see somebody. 

We are going from being a kid to becoming an adult and for some kids it's really hard juggling everything. Having someone to talk to in Collie will be good.

Collie Leos Club vice president Dana Coomber

"We are going from being a kid to becoming an adult and for some kids it's really hard juggling everything. Having someone to talk to in Collie will be good." 

Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray said the Collie Family Centre have consistently gone above and beyond to provide the essential services in our community.

“I welcome this initiative by the Collie Family Centre and thank the Bendigo Bank for the generous funding," he said. 

Being able to provide this counselling service in town, means that our youth aren’t having to travel to the cities for help, which only adds to the stresses they are experiencing.

Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray

“Looking after your mental health is something that we must all be conscious of from an early age and this service will be absolutely invaluable for our youth in Collie.

“Being able to provide this counselling service in town, means that our youth aren’t having to travel to the cities for help, which only adds to the stresses they are experiencing.”