It’s important we look after young minds

I recently had the pleasure of travelling to Sydney with our Youth Worker, Dylan Powell to an awards night. The SENTRAL Youth Services ‘Intergen Munch Out’ and ‘SENTRAL Fitness’ programs were nominated for the 2018 NSW Local Government Excellence awards.

Although we did not win the award on this occasion, my time was well spent as I learned a lot from Dylan about youth mental health, problems around mental health and Kiama’s services.

SENTRAL Youth Services, in Hindmarsh Park, offer a range of supportive programs for our youth and are always reaching out to connect to young people. In conjunction with Kiama High School, our Youth Workers assist with the Friends for Life Program and the Young Men’s Program, which aim to develop life skills and self-esteem in year nine and 10 boys and girls.

Dylan also told me about the Teen Clinic, a free service for teenagers to talk to a nurse about medical or non-medical issues, in a non-judgemental environment. Teenagers are given access to a range of services covering general health, contraception advice, mental health, relationship concerns and more. Access to this type of early intervention has a long lasting impact on the physical and mental health of our youth.

It is important that our youth have somewhere to go to talk things out and I am glad that we have this resource locally at the Kiama Medical Practice. The Teen Clinic hours are Mondays and Thursdays from 2-5pm. No appointments are necessary.

The Kiama Rotary Club provides ongoing financial support to Kiama High School to provide mental health and anti-bullying programs for students in years eight and 10. The club delivers a two-day mental health first aid course it has developed.

Other great youth development programs include the Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment (14-16 years) which uses the common bonds of learning, cooperation, and friendship to design activities which facilitate trust and self-esteem.

It is so important for communities to have conversations relating to mental health. The more awareness of these problems, and knowledge of resources and programs that can help, the better off our youth will be. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated team looking after our young people in Kiama.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or between 7pm-midnight visit lifeline.org.au/get-help/online-services/crisis-chat.