South Grafton family (from left) Caleb Witt and his mother Kerry Laurie with a petition she has started to have a youth mental health service 'Headspace' estblished in Grafton. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner
South Grafton family (from left) Caleb Witt and his mother Kerry Laurie with a petition she has started to have a youth mental health service 'Headspace' estblished in Grafton. Photo Debrah Novak / The Daily Examiner Debrah Novak

Clarence mum petitions for headspace outreach program

SOUTH Grafton mum Kerry Laurie is fed up with there not being enough support for her 14-year-old son Caleb, who is suffering from severe mental illness.

After attempting to take his own life last week Ms Laurie has said enough is enough and begun a petition to bring a headspace outreach program to the Clarence Valley.

"I have to do something," Ms Laurie said. "I have got a son who is very ill and he needs help. He suffers with severe depression and he has had it since he was 11."

After merciless torment from his peers Ms Laurie was forced to take her son out of school. Caleb attends counselling at headspace Coffs Harbour but Ms Laurie said making the journey was not always that easy.

"Caleb goes to headspace in Coffs Harbour but it is hard to travel down there all the time," she said. "I don't have a car or any mode of transport, so I have to rely on friends and neighbours to transport him down there.

"If they ring me tomorrow to say they have an opening to see him I would not be able to get him there. When he needs them the most, it is so hard to get him to see them."

"I believe that the Clarence Valley was knocked back by headspace because we have enough services, but I don't think that is the case at all.

"I know there are hotlines and numbers that can be called but they need face-to-face counselling."

Ms Laurie understands that school counsellors are available but she said her son was reluctant to visit the counsellor in case anybody saw him go there and teased him about it.

The heartbreak for her as a mother dealing with her son's mental illness makes it hard to do everyday tasks.

"I wake up every morning worrying if he will still be safe in his bed," she said. "I can't sleep at night, because I am just worried all the time about Caleb.

"It is very hard being a mum already but this just makes the job so much harder. Being a single mum means everything has had to be put on hold to support Caleb.

"I cry myself to sleep every night because I feel like a failure because I can't help my own son."

But the South Grafton mother is helping her son, by putting together a petition to bring a headspace outreach program to the Clarence Valley in the hopes it will pull Caleb from the depths of despair.

"He won't eat at the mo

ment, he doesn't sleep," she said. "He feels like people are staring at him and judging him.

"Hearing my own son telling you he thinks it would be better if he was just dead just tears me apart. This is why I am trying to get this to work.

"I am getting a petition signed for headspace to come to Grafton. The community should get behind this, because that is what we are fighting for, we are fighting for our youth.

"It feels like I just keep hitting dead ends, but I will never give up."

Ms Laurie's petition can be found at the following locations: 

Nortec, First National Ford and Dougherty, The Hub, Chess Employment, Tursa, Armidale Street Store, Dominos Pizza, Kezzas on Bent, Grafton Superclinic, Low Pressure Surf Shop, Cignall Grafton Shoppingworld, Gurehlgam Aboriginal Healing Centre, Aboriginal Legal Services, Tun-In Mob and Angelite Energy in Pound Street. 



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