On the 26th October 2023 headspace Geelong and Corio held a Q&A panel run by a group of diverse young people who spoke their experiences of help seeking.
Aryan (he/him), Michael (he/him), Kale (he/him), Darqe (he/him) and Zoe (she/they) represented diversity in gender, sexuality, cultural background and coming from rural backgrounds.
When asked what some of the main barriers for their help seeking, they provided the following insights.
‘We need clarity – your website needs to explain what you do, how much it costs and how I can access your services.’
They also spoke about their experience of preferring to be able to make appointments online rather than making a phone call, and to have all their options explained to them at the beginning of engagement so they can make an informed decision about their care.
Panellists spoke about the importance of authenticity and for clinicians to feel informed of gender inclusive langue. They also said that if a clinician doesn’t know what a young person is referring to then “just ask” as it could be quite empowering for the young person to teach that clinician.
They spoke to the importance of explaining confidentiality thoroughly and with cultural considerations. As well as being clear on when confidentiality needs to be broken how that will play out so the young person can have some input into who is contacted.
In terms of creating a safe space for young people non-gendered forms and toilets were a high priority in making LGBTIQ young people feel safe as well as soft lighting, natural light and generally asking the young people what would help them feel safe.
Panellists spoke to the importance of treating each young person as unique and tailoring your response to their individual diverse needs. Considering asking how much the young person’s diversity is important to them was also high on the agenda of empowering young people to guide the sessions in the focus that was important to them.
When asked about their most memorable and positive experiences of help seeking the panellist spoke about feeling validated while waiting on a waiting list through check in calls, being given options for engagement including telehealth, online as well as person to person and being simply asked “tell me how you experience that” rather than being told how they should be feeling.
The panellist spoke to the importance of engaging young males through accessible language, being in the places young males frequent and being mindful that if these men are coming from rural backgrounds the impacts of their symptoms may be amplified due to the multiple barriers they have faced.
The event was well attended by local clinicians in the region and headspace Geelong and the panellists hope the information was well received to help further support young people to access supports and manage their health concerns in a supported and proactive way.
Community Engagement Coordinator for headspace Geelong, Paige coordinated the event for young people to provide their feedback to clinicians in the region on their experiences of help seeking.
The Q&A panel was an idea sparked by our Youth Futures Crew as part of our headspace day celebrations, with the aim to strengthen and promote youth friendly services across the region.