Significant increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people accessing help
headspace has seen a dramatic 32 per cent increase in the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people accessing its centres since the Australia wide Yarn Safe initiative was launched a little over a year ago.
Yarn Safe, which will move into a second phase, aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and encourages young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to seek help at headspace, or other appropriate mental health services.
It is the first youth-led national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth mental health campaign of its kind and was developed with a group of 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people from across Australia.
Phase two of the campaign will delve deeper into the issues commonly faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people such as stress and pressure; family and relationships; racism and drugs and alcohol.
There will be new health promotion resources for young people and importantly cultural training is being provided to select headspace staff nationally to ensure that young people receive a culturally appropriate service.
In the 12 months since the campaign launch, the proportion of young people receiving services at headspace centres who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander increased from 7.7 per cent to 8 per cent. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12-25 represent 4 per cent of the Australian population.
headspace CEO Chris Tanti said the unprecedented response to Yarn Safe was great, but more work needed to be done to address the disproportionate burden of mental health disorders among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
“We are thrilled by the success of the Yarn Safe campaign so far, driven by the outreach work of headspace centres and important partnerships across Australia,” Mr Tanti said. “Overwhelmingly, these Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people feel that headspace is a culturally safe place.
“However, addressing the needs of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people is an organisational-wide ongoing commitment to partnership with communities and culturally sensitive practice, including evaluation to ensure that many more young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel comfortable to talk with us.
“We’ve created a targeted and culturally appropriate initiative that will, I believe, continue to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to access the help available for all young Australians.”
An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report 2011 showed in 2008 almost one-third of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 16-24 years) had high or very high level of psychological stress – more than twice the rate of young non-Indigenous Australians.
Increasingly, research findings suggest that early intervention can prevent the worsening of mental health problems.
Yarn Safe youth advisor and newly appointed member of the headspace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sub-committee, Mark Munnich, said shame, judgement and feeling isolated for not being ‘normal’ was stopping many young people from getting the help they need.
“We have been able to explore these issues as a group to come up with imagery and language that is familiar to all of our cultures,” Mr Munnich said. “Hopefully, we can encourage more young people to access the confidential help available at headspace and break the cycle of young people not speaking up when they’ve got a lot going on.”
“There’s no shame in talking about problems affecting mental health and wellbeing.”
headspace media contact: Carly Wright – 0413025385 - email@example.com