Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin addressed a planning workshop for a Headspace youth mental health facility at St Vincents Private Hospital Education Centre.
Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin addressed a planning workshop for a Headspace youth mental health facility at St Vincents Private Hospital Education Centre. Cathy Adams

Tackling illness head on

MEMBER for Page Janelle Saffin has rallied organisations in an effort to tackle youth mental illness on the Northern Rivers.

Yesterday at St Vincents Hospital in Lismore, more than 30 representatives from government and non-government organisations attended a workshop where they discussed how to establish a Headspace youth mental health centre in the region.

Headspace is a federally-funded national organisation with 40 mental health centres around Australia and specialises in drug and alcohol-related mental illnesses, harm repair, social recovery, vocational services and early intervention.

"There were a whole lot of people talking about (having a Headspace) but a submission had not gone forward from our area," MP Saffin said.

"There had been a pool of funding around so I thought, 'I don't want that funding to end and we end up with not having a Headspace service'."

She said young people on the Northern Rivers with mental illnesses often went unidentified and untreated for many years.

"Headspace has the ability to actually do that identification and intervention," she said.

Many people have suggested the new facility that will employ social, psycho-social and other health workers, will be located in Lismore.

However, On Track Community Programs will identify specific areas with high rates of youth mental illness and what surrounding services currently exist in order to allow for an informed decision.

During the planning stages of the project, On Track Community Programs, Headspace, North Coast Medicare Local and politicians will also consult with communities and mental health workers.

"We have to listen to and learn how to listen to the community and take what they tell us and make it meaningful," North Coast Medicare Local chief executive officer Vahid Saberi said.



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