Youngsters finish first aid course

A GROUP of young people from the Northern Rivers Youth Advisory Council and the Fresh Fruits Youth Group have finished their Youth Mental Health First Aid Course in Lismore.

The two-day course covered depression, anxiety, psychosis, self-harm and substance misuse, issues that commonly arise in the younger community.

As the co-chair of Fresh Fruits, the under-25's sub-group attached to the Northern Rivers's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) support network Tropical Fruits, Aura-Lea Withers, 23, often helps youth who are struggling not only with the "angst" all teens experience but the questioning of their sexuality.

"Unfortunately there is a high rate of suicide in the LGBT community," she said.

"Youth in general deserve and need a support team around them whether that is their parents or friends. I would have loved someone to have (the skills I have learnt) when I was going through a tough time."

Northern Rivers Youth Advisory Council member, Neil Hendriks, who is also the co-chair of the Fresh Fruits Youth Group, said mental health and substance misuse was a huge issue for young people in the Northern Rivers region, especially in the LGBT community.

"Being in Fresh Fruits, I often see youth upset or emotional, whether it is at the group or on Facebook," he said.

"In the past I would have not been sure about whether I should approach them but now I have done the course, I would be confident in the situation."

MindRightInstitute director, Nicqui Yazdi, who conducted the course, said 16 to 24-year-olds rarely asked for mental health help when they needed it.

"...rarely do they ever get medical attention let alone for mental health," she explained.

"They fall through the cracks. They don't get help from professionals when it's needed. But they are really good at helping their friends.

"If young people do this training, then it means they know the stuff to help their friends out."



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