Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, said communities in Indi were closely watching the rollout of mental health reforms to ensure people get help when going through tough times. National Youth Mental Health Foundation Headspace is celebrating its 10th anniversary and Ms McGowan was a guest speaker today at headspace Albury Wodonga to mark the occasion.
Ms McGowan praised the work headspace Albury Wodonga had done since opening in early 2015. This followed a strong community campaign to get the centre established, in response to youth suicides on the Border. “Headspace Albury Wodonga has been an important addition to mental health services and quickly became a place young people could turn to for help,” she said. “The challenge is to expand this level of mental health service for youth beyond Albury Wodonga to other major centres, including Wangaratta, Benalla, and Mansfield.”
In acknowledging the stigma surrounding mental health and how this impacts on young people accessing help, headspace will launch a new digital hub today. Ms McGowan said this would include links and resources for people seeking assistance. Visit www.thebigstigma.com.au for information.
Ms McGowan said mental health services in the North East face many issues, including retaining staff, attracting psychiatrists and assisting people seeking perinatal care. Youth also want action taken to address the mental health problems affecting their family members and friends.
“I met with a group of young people recently and their major concern was the need for more mental health services and support in our region,” Ms McGowan said. “They told me services had to be community based and more co-ordination is needed to get effective outcomes. This has been identified by Government and I will continue lobbying to ensure this is delivered in Indi.”
In December last year, the Government response to the Report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services was announced. A significant part of the reform was increased online support for people suffering mental health issues. Ms McGowan said funding had to adequately resource the findings of the National Review, particularly in rural and regional Australia. “Our services are strained and the impact of the drug ‘ice’ has added extra stress on a system under pressure,” Ms McGowan said.
Ms McGowan is committed to improving mental health in Indi. Last year Ms McGowan toured Kerferd Clinic in Wangaratta and chaired the Beyond Blue Forum in November. In her first term in Parliament, Ms McGowan was a member of the cross-party Parliamentary Friends of Youth Mental Health (PFYMH). Ms McGowan invited the Wodonga-based HighWater Theatre to Canberra to perform the play MindFields...Burns Too Bright in 2014.
Ms McGowan encourages people to support the Winter Solstice for Survivors of Suicide in Albury next Tuesday, June 21, at QEII.