More needs to be done to build young people’s resilience in Esperance according to psychologist Helen Devenish.
This comes after Resilience Youth Australia conducted a survey in November 2016 of 500 Esperance students about their mental health and ability to be resilient. Ms Devenish said the survey was much needed as it provided baseline data for the community to understand what the youth wanted and needed.
A key statistic from the survey was 76 per cent of students rated belonging to the community as borderline or depleted. Ms Devenish said when people don’t feel like they belong they can become lonely, isolated and have low self-esteem, which could become a snowball effect for serious issues. While these results were alarming to Ms Devenish, she said it was easily fixed with the help of the local schools, community and of course funding. The government funded organisation Headspace is designed to make it easy for young people and their family to access help in regards to their mental health. However, the closest Headspace is in Kalgoorlie and Albany and Ms Devenish said it would be unlikely for town to get the service for themselves.
“The youth need something that is free, accessible and not embarrassing for them,” she said.
YouthCARE have four chaplains working across seven schools in Esperance.
Chaplain Christine Blair works at Esperance Primary and Senior High School and said her role was to care for the social, emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of students, staff and families. Ms Blair also hosts activities which help to improve people’s self-esteem as well as belonging to the community.
“Doing things to support community and help others is a great way to feel good about yourself and improve mental health,” she said.
The Shire of Esperance president Victoria Brown said council were supportive of a youth forum which would allow them to have a voice. “It is vital for council to hear from the younger members of Esperance so that our community can continue to grow,” she said.
As a result of the survey, Ms Devenish has been helping organise a summit where international psychologist Andrew Fuller will visit Esperance in September. She said he would provide community and youth focused workshops.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.