Community's push for better youth mental health access

THE community's push for better access to youth mental health services in the Clarence Valley is getting stronger, with a new petition for a local headspace and an emergency public meeting called.

Former Clarence Valley student Simon Colgrave, who started the petition on Saturday, said he was spurred to action by a cluster of recent deaths in the region which have caused immense pain and grief for families, friends and the wider community.

Mr Colgrave said he was confident people would get behind the petition.

In the first 48 hours the online petition gained close to 1500 signatures, a number that continues to grow.

"There were about 1400 plus signatures in that short amount of time, so it's obviously a very, very touchy subject and very needed in the area," he said.

"Every time it happens it just rocks the community.

"I will be sending the petition to headspace and Beyond Blue, so they can see what our community has set in motion."

  >> SIGN NOW: Online petition for headspace facility in Grafton

In September last year, South Grafton mum Kerry Laurie handed more than 1500 signatures from her own petition to attract a headspace facility to Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, who has thrown his full support behind bids for more youth mental health facilities.

An emergency meeting to discuss ideas for more mental health facilities was also held last night at the Grafton District Services Club.

Prior to the meeting, organiser Janita Cooper said it would be a chance for members of the Clarence Valley to share their thoughts on the state of mental health in the area, and suggest what could be done to help provide support to those who needed it.

Mr Hogan also said it was important to focus on the services available through Clarence Valley Mental Health Services, CRANES Community Support and Maclean District Hospital among others.

Jaelea Skehan, from Hunter Institute of Mental Health's Conversations Matter project, said it was important to talk about suicide in the community.

"If you are worried that someone may be at risk of suicide or if you know someone who has experienced a loss, saying nothing about how to prevent it makes no sense," she said. "Conversations Matter, developed by the Hunter Institute, aims to assist communities to talk about suicide in a safe way that breaks down stigma and increases understanding and support for those thinking about suicide and/or those affected by suicide."

For more information on the Conversations Matter project, go to www. conversationsmatter.com.au.

If you or someone you know needs help, 24/7 crisis support is available by phoning Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or www.kidshelp.com.au.

For direct clinical services, phone 1800 650 890 or go to www.headspace.org.au.



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