Thursday, July 25, 2024

Headspace front of mind for Whittlesea

Victoria’s City of Whittlesea Council has announced the opening of a new ‘headspace’ mental health service at Plenty Valley Westfield.

Funded by the Federal Government via the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network, the service operates three days a week and provides free mental health and wellbeing support to City of Whittlesea residents aged 12 to 25 years.

City of Whittlesea Chair Administrator, Lydia Wilson said ensuring appropriate services were available locally to support young people’s mental health has long been a concern for Council and local health service providers.

“We are so pleased to announce the opening of this crucial service to support our young people,” said Ms Wilson.

“Research shows that more than 75% of mental health issues develop before a person turns 25, yet our young people currently face wait times of up to eight months for access to ongoing counselling.

“As our population continues to grow, the number of young people in the 15 to 24 year-old age group is forecast to double by 2041, to 48,000 so the need for these services is likely to grow too.”

She said the launch of headspace Plenty Valley coincides with Mental Health Week 9-17 October.

“Local need has only increased due to the impacts of the COVID pandemic, with the effects felt especially by our young people whose worlds have been turned upside down in many ways, and at crucial and potentially vulnerable stages in their lives,” Ms Wilson said.

A trial of headspace services at Council’s Baseline Youth Services space in 2018/19 demonstrated the significant demand for mental health services that not only meet the unique needs of young people but were centrally located and easy to access, she said.

“One third of headspace Greensborough’s clientele are City of Whittlesea residents, which shows you that the demand for this service locally is substantial.”

Headspace Plenty Valley will operate out of Council’s The Edge Baseline Youth Services and is designed to be inclusive and allow for young people to seek support for challenges related to their mental and physical health, work, school or study, alcohol and other drugs, and gender or sexuality.

CEO of Mind Australia, Gill Callister, acknowledged the opportune timing of the launch.

“I am delighted to see the expansion of headspace services in the north east, with the opening of the new satellite centre in Plenty Valley. The timing of this is critical – we know that the successive lockdowns are taking a heavy toll on the mental health of young people, and Plenty Valley is no exception,” she said.

“The pandemic has really highlighted the importance of community mental health support for young people and their families, and the opening of headspace Plenty Valley is critical for addressing that need.”

Council is seeking further funding from the Federal Government to establish a five day per week headspace facility in the northern part of the City of Whittlesea, to complement the three day per week service at Plenty Valley.

Headspace Plenty Valley is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9am – 5pm and is located at Westfield Plenty Valley inside The Edge, Baseline Youth Services. The centre is now taking bookings, however under lockdown restrictions is operating via telehealth appointments only.

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