Major youth mental health support provider, headspace, has expanded to meet growing demand for its services.
The Hurstville hub celebrated the launch of its new premises on October 7, in response to an increasing number of young people accessing help.
This was a move that could not have come at a better time, as October is Mental Health Month.
Being limited by its previous size, the centre will now be able to reach out to more vulnerable people in St George.
In 2018-19, a total of 361 new young people accessed the services at Hurstville, compared with 524 people in 2019-20.
Funded through Central and Eastern Sydney PHN and operated by Stride Mental Health, headspace staff can do what they do best in an increased capacity.
Central and Eastern Sydney PHN Chief Executive, Nathalie Hansen, said there has been notable growth and development of the Hurstville hub since it opened in 2014.
"The fact that the centre needs larger premises is a testament to the work the team does to support the young people of our community," she said.
Every year, more than 100,000 young people visit a headspace centre or access phone and online counselling service headspace.
Chief Executive of headspace, Jason Trethowan, says there is high demand for youth mental health services across Australia.
"Hurstville is no exception," he said. "With this local service, we hope to meet the growing demand for young people, their families and friends.
"We've known from before the pandemic the period of adolescence and early adulthood is a critical time in a young person's life, and 75 per cent of mental illnesses emerge before the age of 25.
"After the tumultuous events of the past two years, including COVID-19, enforced lockdowns and natural disasters, the proportion of young Australians experiencing mental ill-health has increased to two in every five.
"Many young people coming to headspace say they are experiencing anxiety and depression, and report feeling busy, stressed or upset in their everyday lives. This mental and emotional pressure can make life feel really challenging for young people.
"We are optimistic that the youth-friendly and inclusive work of headspace will help tear down the stigma of mental health and instead build greater awareness and understanding of the importance of looking after mental health and well-being."
The NSW Government announced a record $2.9 billion investment into mental health services as part of the 2022-23 NSW Budget.
A new door-to-door mental health and well-being survey also revealed 32 per cent of respondents wanted to seek help for their mental health in the last 12 months, but 59 per cent did not get the care they needed, because they preferred to "self-manage".
The Assisting Communities through Direct Connection (ACDC) Project's People Connectors spoke with and offered information to 1038 Hurstville house-holders,194 of whom then completed a survey of their experiences with mental health and accessing support.
People Connectors from Stride Mental Health, who partnered with CMHA, went door-to-door between April 2022 and July 2022 on the initiative that was funded by the Department of Social Services.
Of those who completed the survey, 70 per cent were born outside of Australia and 45 per cent spoke a language other than English at home.
Bill Gye, the Chief Executive of Community Mental Health Australia, which managed the project, says the data may be indicative of stigma and taboo, which is often associated with mental health.
"The fact that many people said they would rather self-manage as their first preference, while demonstrating a degree of self-sufficiency, could also indicate that a number of people, and often those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, still have a significant degree of shame and stigma around mental health," he said.
Lydia O'Connor, from Stride Mental Health and manager for the ACDC Project at Hurstville, said it was surprising how many locals still needed help to manage their mental health, which suggests people are not aware of the supports in the community or choosing not to seek external help.
"The benefit of this project was to see where the gaps are in the community. Our hope for Hurstville is an improvement in accessing mental health services and reducing stigma in culturally diverse communities," she said.
The final report of the project, along with recommendations for how the sector can better meet the needs of communities, is scheduled to be released in the beginning of next year.
Lifeline (13 11 14); Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800)
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