Residents urged to fill mental health void

WITH the Swan Hill community still anxiously awaiting the announcement of additional headspace sites later this year, health experts have called on the community to help fill the void in the meantime.

The latest figures on Swan Hill's youth self-harm showed the region more than tripled the Victorian average for intentional self-harm hospitalisation, with a rate of 4.2 per 1000 adolescents.

In spite of the troubling data, last year's community campaign for the establishment of a local mental health support and information centre, such as a headspace site, fell on deaf ears.

With the announcement of further headspace sites not expected until at least July, The Salvation Army territorial Hope for Life liaison officer Hennie Watts told The Guardian that the entire community needed to step up and fill the void.

"We'd like at a macro level for a lot of funding to be available but in reality it is not," she said.

"What I'm saying is that every single person... needs to be more aware of what's happening, so we can break down the stigma."

Ms Watts, who was leading a workshop on suicide bereavement in Swan Hill yesterday, said community conversations about suicide and mental health played an important part in preventing suicide and making it easier for troubled people to seek help.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s edition of The Guardian (06/02/13). 

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