LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch has hit back at an ABC article which questions the effectiveness of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation’s headspace programme.
Mr Entsch, a long-time advocate for mental health issues, is also the only MP in Australia who is the Independent Chair of a headspace. He regularly attends the headspace Cairns Consortium bi-monthly meetings.
“First of all, it needs to be recognised that this is not a new report, and the data it’s based on is from 2013-14,” Mr Entsch said. “Many of the challenges identified have been comprehensively addressed since then, and the Coalition Government wouldn’t have supported the expansion of headspace to 10 more centres if there were any questions around its success.”
Mr Entsch said that having looked over the report, Cairns cannot be lumped into the assumptions made by the ABC journalist this morning.
“As far as I can see, the report didn’t include any information from Cairns and further it stated that… ‘headspace is achieving some success in reaching young people who live in regional areas’.”
Mr Entsch said that while headspace Cairns recognises that it cannot meet all needs, the centre has been operating for four and a half years without any increase in funding.
“The report highlighted the need for outreach, which is something that headspace Cairns has been keen to undertake for a long time. It does operate on a very tight budget however, but is hoping to be able to carry out face-to-face outreach in regional centres in the future.
“Overall, I think that Cairns is performing exceptionally well and the number of young people seeking to access the service is ever-increasing.
“Speaking to the manager of headspace Cairns today, she said that a father had telephoned her this morning to say that he had read the news report and he wanted to ring and say that headspace was the only thing that helped his daughter, who at the time had been terribly unwell mentally.
“It’s very disappointing that this report is being misrepresented in what appears to be a deliberate effort to try and find a negative rather than focusing on a very significant number of positives.”
headspace Cairns provides GP, mental health counselling, community engagement, mental health literacy in schools and run clinical and social groups. Although modelled to see early intervention (mild to moderate symptoms), headspace Cairns sees a higher number of stage 1 and stage 2 diagnostic threshold than the national average in headspace centres.
Last financial year ending June 2016 the Cairns Centre:
• Provided 5,588 sessions to Cairns young people aged between 12 and 25. 1000 of those sessions were to young people identifying as LGBTIQ, and 613 were to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander young people;
• Mental health and behaviour are the main reasons young people attend headspace;
• The service saw 1,254 individuals, plus another 50 approximately who came along to groups;
• Young people average four to five visits and the waiting time is usually less than a week;
• The Cairns centre delivered 108 sessions of yoga, music and drama, 27 class presentations to teenagers in school and attended 26 community events;
• Outcome and satisfaction data was higher than the national average. Young people’s symptom scores were lowered, their Social and Occupational functioning scores improved, and their satisfaction with the service averaged 4 out of a total of 5.
“Mental illness does have a significant impact on our community and when it’s affecting young people it’s even more heart-breaking. I’ll vigorously defend services like headspace that are making a proven difference to the mental health and wellbeing of our young people,” Mr Entsch ended.