how has 2020 shaped up at headspace Wollongong?
2020 at headspace Wollongong – An overview.
headspace Wollongong started 2020 in a whirlwind of activity, supporting our community, and particularly communities to our south, after the bushfires of last summer. All of the headspace centres from here to the Victorian border were affected and our centre was able to work in partnership with local health to provide some immediate assistance in those regions.
With the onset of the COVID pandemic in March our centre moved rapidly to online service delivery. Our doctors, psychologists, counsellors and other youth clinicians all became instant telehealth stars.
For a short time, things were a little quiet, but as our community settled in to this new ‘COVID normal’, and the strains and stresses of the new challenges posed became apparent, our centre has increasingly been in demand to support the health and wellbeing of the young people of the Illawarra.
To generalise, in 2020, more young people than ever have sought support from our service. We are funded to support young people with mild to moderate mental health challenges, and while that remains unchanged, it would be fair to say that in 2020 the young people who approach our service have an increasing complexity of issues they are facing. The majority of our clients seek help from us for anxiety and/or depression-related conditions, and in 2020 these have been compounded by additional pressures.
Work and study related concerns, financial hardship, family dynamics and relationship issues have all been intensified by COVID. Changes in our daily lives have come from lockdowns, job losses and online learning. In some cases young people have had more time than ever to sit quietly and contemplate all the aspects of their lives and their sense of self. This has been a positive thing for many but has also been challenging for some.
Our experience with young people in the Illawarra tells us that young people are concerned greatly about the state of the environment, about inequality, about housing, safety, transport and career opportunities. This year we have also noticed that young people are increasingly concerned about their communities and about each other. Local high schools report concerns about the wellbeing of their students and we have worked with schools to provide information and activities to promote positive wellbeing.
As we move forward towards 2021 our centre is implementing additional services and recruiting more staff to work with young people. We can offer support services both in our centre or via telehealth, and we aim, through this flexibility, to meet the needs of all our current and future clients. We hope to also restart our groups programs in 2021 in our centre and with partners.
Our Youth Reference Group (YRG) were crucial this year in ensuring our new telehealth services were youth friendly and appropriate- their feedback was invaluable. They have also worked on an exciting project which aims to create inclusive and kind communities of youth across our region.
We are currently recruiting for a new YRG team for 2021 – please contact us if you, or someone you know, is interested in applying to join the team – phone 02 4220 7660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(please note: the photo here was taken with our staff in February for Mardi Gras, before COVID and before social distancing was a thing)