Boost for youth mental health

Sebastian Neuweiler, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian
Pollinators' Angie West and Headspace State Manager David Wary at the location of the new Geraldton Headspace centre.
Camera IconPollinators' Angie West and Headspace State Manager David Wary at the location of the new Geraldton Headspace centre. Credit: Sebastian Neuweiler

A facility focusing on improving young people’s mental health will open its doors in Geraldton in late February.

National youth foundation Headspace will provide information, counselling, referrals, support for drug and alcohol issues, and employment and educational assistance at its Geraldton centre to people aged 12-25.

Headspace State manager David Wray said the centre would provide services for about 500 young people a year.

“Headspace Geraldton will act as a positive environment where local kids feel comfortable about reaching out for help,” he said.

“I think the centre definitely has the capacity for growth.”

The centre is a joint venture between local group Pollinators, Headspace and Youth Focus with Pollinators providing the Headspace site.

The long-term future of the centre was recently put in doubt by changes to the way mental health programs are funded.

The mental health reform package aims to give regional health networks more control over the way local services are funded by rolling a number of national mental health programs into a flexible funding pool valued at $360 million.

From July 1, this funding pool would be commissioned to local services via the Primary Health Networks.

The change came after the National Mental Health Commission’s 2014 review found Headspace had become a franchise with a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

Under the changes, Headspace would continue to receive funding until July 1, 2018, due to contracts between the PHN and existing headspace services.

After this time, PHN would have the flexibility to commission other models of youth mental health services, should they choose.

Mr Wray said he did not anticipate funding would cease after the expiry of the contracts, and insisted the two-year funding negotiation between the mental health service and the PHNS would provide the service with an opportunity to grow.

“There’s a two-year period, which is really dedicated to better understanding community needs,” he said.

“I think there is an opportunity, through the broader funding that the PHNs will have access to, to really build upon the Headspace model.

“It’s up to the community to make sure the services are meeting their needs.

“My hope would be that the Headspace here can actually expand.”

The Geraldton Headspace centre will be located at Level 1, 193 Marine Terrace, and will be open for walk-ins, with referrals unnecessary.

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