New Youth Mental Health Service Planned for Kempsey

Young people are set to benefit from a new youth mental health service, headspace Kempsey, which is expected to open in late 2020.

Regional welfare agency Samaritans has been awarded a contract to establish a headspace centre for people aged 12 to 25. Funding is through Healthy North Coast’s Primary Health Network program, an Australian Government initiative.

The centre will provide access to holistic, low or no cost, youth-friendly care. As well as mental, physical and sexual health, its services will incorporate support for alcohol and other drugs, and work and study.

Samaritans in Kempsey arranged a breaking ground and smoking ceremony last week to formally announce the launch of our newest service, headspace Kempsey. We were joined by primary health network partner, Healthy North Coast, local MP Pat Conaghan, Kempsey Shire Mayor and local sector leaders.

Welcoming the new service, Healthy North Coast’s Chief Executive Officer Julie Sturgess said headspace will provide additional mental health support to young people in and around Kempsey.

She paid tribute to the Australian Government for recognising the need for the service, which will be provided in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment.

“A key priority of Healthy North Coast is to improve the availability of mental health services to rural and regional communities such as Kempsey,” Ms Sturgess said.

“Samaritans is one of the largest regional welfare agencies in Australia and has considerable experience delivering services for young people.

“The support we give our young people today will have lasting benefits, helping to prevent mental health issues from becoming more serious and long term.”

Samaritans CEO, Brad Webb, said the new service offered a timely response to support young people in the local community.

“In the six years we have been supporting the Kempsey community, we have seen the increasing need for dedicated youth mental health services,” Mr Webb said.

“Samaritans has been delivering headspace services since 2008 and is honoured to be selected to provide this vital service to the Kempsey community.

“Our success relies upon strong partnership with the community and we look forward to working with young people, the Aboriginal community, surrounding communities, and other service providers to ensure that our shared vision for the service is realised.

“We are grateful to Healthy North Coast for recognising the need and making this investment in headspace Kempsey, which will be life changing for young people in the community.”

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said access to early intervention mental health support was crucial for young people, with 75 per cent of mental health issues developing before the age of 25.

“headspace Kempsey will provide young people in the region with increased access to mental health support, which is particularly important at the moment, as young people face additional stressors due to COVID-19,” Mr Trethowan said.

“headspace Kempsey will be able to support local young people in the community to get through these tough times and get back on track.”

Member for Cowper, Mr Pat Conaghan, said young people of the Macleay Valley are important and he welcomed the Australian Government funding this centre through Healthy North Coast.

“I grew up in Kempsey and I know first-hand the challenges young people in a rural town face accessing the mental health and other services they need,” Mr Conaghan said.

“I’m proud as the area’s Federal Member to be able to officially announce headspace Kempsey today and I thank the Federal Coalition Government for allocating $3.4 million over four years to provide this vital service to Macleay Valley youth.”