WA’s first face-to-face youth web counselling service has expanded to Esperance.
Youth Focus is an initiative which offers free, confidential therapy with experienced mental health clinicians via a secure video conferencing platform.
The organisation began targeting select regional locations in May to increase the availability of counselling services.
Youth Focus general manager of operations Emma Brierty said Esperance was identified as a priority under the first phase of the program.
“The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly in areas where youth mental health services are scarce or do not exist,” she said.
“Youth Focus is now actively engaging with vulnerable young people in 10 regional towns through our web counselling platform.
“These are young people who live in areas where services are limited, in some cases do not exist and otherwise may not have been able to access important support.”
Youth Focus allows young people to book an appointment and visit confidential sites to access an iPad and a secure room for their face-to-face session.
Each site has trained staff to support clients.
The WA Primary Health Alliance has provided $380,000 funding for the first year of the project.
Ms Brierty said web counselling enabled greater coverage of youth mental health service in WA.
“While Youth Focus provides counselling and education services across WA from Albany to Geraldton, we are limited in our capacity to employ clinicians in small and remote towns,” she said.
“This can make it especially challenging for young people to access mental health support and lead to them feeling even more isolated.
“We believe distance should not be a barrier for young people to access counselling and support services.
“That is why we have developed this innovative program to help expand the reach of Youth Focus offerings to young people in WA, no matter where they live.”
If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For more information about the Youth Focus web counselling program call 6266 4333.