Record number of clients use Youth Focus counseling service

Youth Focus supported a record number of young people in Western Australia last financial year, helping those grappling with mental health challenges and at risk of suicide.

New statistics show that Youth Focus provided assistance to almost 10,000 young people aged between 12 and 25 and the greater community through its free counselling sessions and education in schools.

Youth Focus supported 3654 young people through no-cost counselling and assessment services in the 2017/2018 financial year, an increase on the 2872 clients the previous financial year.

The web counselling service is now operating from Northam, Dalwallinu and Gnowangerup.

In addition, around 6000 people participated in school and community education programs last financial year, including Year 9 students, parents and teachers at 40 schools.

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Fiona Kalaf said the charity was proud to be at the forefront of the youth mental health sector and was dedicated to making real differences to the lives of young people in WA.

“Through our free, professional counselling service, school-based suicide prevention programs and outreach support, coupled with our new web counselling service, we are reaching more young people than ever before,” Ms Kalaf said.

“In the past financial year, our clinicians have seen an increase in the number of active interventions. We are buoyed by the fact that we are connecting with young people earlier, well before their mental health challenges and symptoms become acute.

“This tells us that youth mental health education programs are reaching their target demographic and there is greater community understanding and acceptance about the importance of personal wellbeing and seeking help. Yet, we need to do more to stem the tide of youth suicide.”

Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians, with statistics showing 54 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives in Western Australia last year. For every suicide, another 20 people attempt to take their own lives.

In addition, one in four young Australians live with a mental health condition, with 75 per cent of mental illnesses first appearing in people under the age of 25.

Ms Kalaf said the generosity of the community was crucial to the success of Youth Focus and its ability to help a growing number of young people each year.

“We realise the great community need for our free youth counselling and mental health services and will continue to work tirelessly to support as many young people as we can,” she said.

“We want to make sure that these young people are well supported through their

mental health journey so they can one day lead full, prosperous lives. But we cannot do this without the generous support of our community and corporate sponsors.

“Without the benevolence of our corporate partners and the greater community, we would not be able to provide at-risk young people in WA with vital counselling and suicide prevention services.”

Youth Focus offers counselling services from its offices in Burswood, Joondalup, Rockingham, Bunbury and Albany, as well as through its schools education program, outreach services and headspace Centres in Midland, Albany and Geraldton.

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.