Youth are being pushed to the limits
AFTER spending time with the headspace team in Coffs Harbour, independent candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott has come away concerned the mental health service for young people is being pushed to its limits.
Mr Oakeshott, if elected, has committed to expanding headspace youth mental health services on the Mid North Coast.
"They are trying to deal with 100 new mental health clients a month and they need more support to do what we are all relying on them to do," Mr Oakeshott said.
"Headspace is the front door to support, often the first door, for young people struggling to cope with range of issues like stress from relationships, study and employment support. In some cases it's just mild levels of psychological distress.
Mr Oakeshott said the real challenge emerging is providing ongoing treatment for those with moderate to more severe mental health problems.
"Forty percent of headspace clients are now considered moderately to severely unwell.
"Headspace not being funded to deal with this increase in numbers requiring a greater level of care represents a challenge for the entire mental health support network and the community.
He said young people identified as moderate to high risk left without adequate treatment or support can directly increase the risk of suicide and suicidal behaviour leading to extra demands on emergency departments and the resources of ambulance and police services.
"More importantly, our community should not allow someone to suffer and endure ill-health that is, in many cases, treatable and manageable. Letting it happen creates a deepening pool of negative social and economic outcomes.
"Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the largest increase in suicide is among those under 25 years.
"The suicide rate for young women has gone up an alarming 75% over the past decade. This needs to change.
"It can change, if we give more comprehensive support at frontline community level for programs like headspace," Mr Oakeshott said.