Australia

Rural youth mental health outreach program launched

Mental health challenges in rural areas of Australia are particularly concerning, with statistics showing that one in four young people experience mental health concerns over a 12 month period.

To help tackle this significant issue, the Benevolent Society has partnered with Bila Muuji Aboriginal Corporation Health Service – an organisation that provides Primary Health Care representation to the Aboriginal Medical Services across the Western and Far West of NSW – to offer the Rural Youth Mental Health (RYMH) service.

The Rural Youth Mental Health Service is a mobile community outreach program to support young people between the ages of 12 and 25 in rural areas of NSW, to overcome mental health challenges and isolation. The program is funded by the Western New South Wales Primary Health Network.

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The RYMH service is free of charge and offers therapeutic services, group work and case management services within community centres, schools, homes, TAFE and other outreach settings across 11 regional areas of NSW: Cobar, Condobolin, Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Cowra, Forbes, Gilgandra, Nyngan, Narromine, Parkes and Walgett. Flexible clinical services will be provided by mental health clinicians, both within and after business-hours.

“All of our work is focused on building the social and emotional wellbeing of young people,” Amie Carrington, Manager Child and Family Services Western NSW for The Benevolent Society said.

“We want to help young people recognise and manage their mental health concerns. We want to reduce the barriers that young people face to accessing primary mental health services in rural NSW and reduce the impact of a range of difficulties on a young persons health and wellbeing.

“Our aim is to work together with young people to arrange a personal service based on their own strengths and needs,” added Ms Carrington. “We will also focus on the young persons broader needs such as housing, education, employment, physical health and social supports, and take an integrative approach to working with other services”.

CEO of Bila Muuji Phil Naden agreed that the success of this project will be because of the partnership arrangement with The Benevolent Society and Bila Muuji.

“The integrity of this project will be upheld by both organisations to ensure that our core focus is to work with youth people and to improve their overall Social and Emotional Wellbeing and mental health,” Mr Naden said.

CEO Western NSW Primary Health Network, Andrew Harvey said the Western NSW Primary Health Network is proud to fund this service which will provide much-needed support for young people experiencing mental health issues.

“Mental health and wellbeing is a priority for the PHN and the RYMH service will help countless communities in our region,” Mr Harvey said.

The RYMH service is open to anybody aged 12-25 who is concerned about their mental health or is experiencing mental health challenges like early warning signs of anxiety or depression. A mental health diagnosis or GP referral is not required and participation is voluntary.

The RYMH program is an inclusive service, delivered in the community and provided to young people who may be feeling isolated, alone and unsure of what support they need, may not have accessed mental health services before, and need help connecting with mental health services.