Border Headspace centre only months away

Headspace chief Chris Tanti and the member for Farrer Sussan Ley discuss the program. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
Headspace chief Chris Tanti and the member for Farrer Sussan Ley discuss the program. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

A HEADSPACE centre for young people dealing with mental illness will open in Wodonga’s High Street by October.

Headspace chief executive Chris Tanti was in Albury yesterday and said preparation for the centre was going well.

“They’ve got the building — the biggest difficulty in establishing a headspace is finding a location,” he said.

Dr Tanti was invited by the member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, to discuss headspace with her youth advisory committee, made up of two students from each Albury secondary school.

They held a workshop at Albury High School.

Headspace has its own youth reference groups as part of the process of setting up and running centres that cater for 12 to 25-year-olds.

Dr Tanti said headspace took the views of young people seriously.

“The reference groups keep you informed about what young people are thinking,” he said.

“We pride ourselves as service providers as having an evidence-based approach to care.

“But if you don’t know how young people think about particular things, you can’t design services in an appropriate way to accommodate that.”

Ms Ley said it was crucial young people had their say.

“They expressed concern their age group may not have input into what the service looked like,” she said.

Ms Ley said they felt young people would not use the service if the it was not constructed in the right way.

“It was a very strong message for me — the first being that we need it, and lots of examples were given as to why,” she said.

“But also we want to make sure it’s not one of those services no one knows about.”

Ms Ley said there had been a patchwork of mental health support services for different groups with different funding and timeframes.

“Not all of them have worked well,” she said.

“I’m determined that this is going to work well.”

Ms Ley said the role for headspace was to convince young people it was just as much about support as treatment.

“One of the best expressions this morning was when a kid said it needed to be ‘a big brother when you don’t have anyone to talk to’.”

Dr Tanti, who has led headspace since its inception in 2006, agreed.

“If you’re talking about suicide, the view was that you might not be addressing the real issues,” he said.

“Obviously, suicide is a very important issue, but there are a whole range of things that affect young people that can get them to the point where they feel they can’t get any traction.”

Dr Tanti said that included issues such as bullying, stress, depression, relationships “and a sense of belonging and connecting, and where they can get support from”.