June 10, 2020

Mental health campaign to help Peel youth

Youth Focus - vertical logoA new Youth Focus campaign has been launched across the Peel region, urging young people experiencing mental health challenges to seek support.

Today, Youth Focus launches its “In this Together” campaign in conjunction with Alcoa Australia in an effort to encourage more young people to connect with Youth Focus’s free, unlimited counselling and mental health services.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said the campaign was an opportunity to engage more young people to ensure they seek the help they need.

“While most of our counselling has transitioned from in-person to online services during COVID-19, it still concerns us greatly that vulnerable young people may not be reaching out or getting the help they need,” Mr Papakotsias said.

Figures show suicide remains the leading cause of death for young Western Australians, with 49 young Western Australians aged between 15 and 24 dying by suicide in 2018.

Mr Papakotsias said Youth Focus statistics showed counselling services in WA had grown by more than 24% in the past year, with further growth projected over the coming year.

“Thanks to the support from Alcoa Australia, Youth Focus has been ingrained in the Peel community for many years and has worked hard to help as many young people as possible,” Mr Papakotsias said.

“Our connections with young clients in Peel have shown a third have acute mental health challenges and are at risk of developing suicidal behaviours, so there is an overwhelming need for the services we offer in the region.

“Importantly, there has been an almost 50% increase in the number of males accessing Youth Focus counselling services in the past 12 months. This is welcome as young men have historically been difficult to engage despite the high prevalence of mental health issues amongst the group in the region.

“We expect demand for our services to further increase, with population growth forecast to rise by almost 100,000 young people in the region in the next 10 years and, in turn, a likely surge in the number of teenagers who will need our help.”

He said the Alcoa Australia partnership had enabled Youth Focus to build relationships with young people in the Peel region through the provision of funding for one counsellor along with school and community mental health initiatives.

Fremantle Dockers defender and Youth Focus ambassador Alex Pearce said support, whether from family, friends or trained clinicians, was vital to counter mental health challenges.

“I openly share that I went through some personal ups and downs when was forced to take 20 months off the field with injuries,” Pearce said. “It was a struggle. There were some dark times and I felt like I had lost my identity not playing football.
“Fortunately, I had a network of family, friends and strong connections with teammates who helped me through.

“I’d say to anyone having similar feelings that help is out there. Youth Focus offers free, unlimited counselling to help you work through these issues. It only takes a phone call.”

Alcoa Australia Corporate Affairs Director Jodie Read said the resources company was proud to be able to assist the Peel region in having access to important services for things like mental health, especially during such difficult times.

“Youth Focus provides an important service and we’re keen to ensure as many of our young people as possible know that there is help out there if they need it and how they can access it,” Ms Read said.

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