Greater focus is needed on youth mental health, according to Macedon Ranges and Sunbury residents.
The tight-knit communities have taken to social media in recent weeks, pleading for help for their adolescents.
“We need to be doing more,” one resident posted in a heartfelt message. “Too many members of our community have been prematurely taken from us.”
Macedon Ranges council’s Live4Life co-ordinator Pauline Neil said services available to young people needed to be further supported and promoted.
“We need to sit down collectively and look at how we can improve that access of support to young people, and really look at providing our community with more education,” Ms Neil said.
The Live4Life program, which was awarded the 2017 Community Development Award by Suicide Prevention Australia, educates secondary school children about mental health issues and offers training to parents, carers and teachers.
Ms Neil said Macedon Ranges council was planning to host more youth mental health first-aid training sessions that would be open to anyone. She said both the state and federal governments needed to invest in mental health support and how it was delivered.
“Imagine if we had on-the-ground youth workers that went to where the young people were – who would go and sit down at the skate park,” she said.
Riddell Football Netball Club is one of several sports clubs stepping up its focus on mental health. President Chris Banks said the club was looking at how it could help the mental wellbeing of its members. “We’re definitely going to implement some sort of program to help the kids,” Mr Banks said. “Something needs to be done.”
“I always try to look out for the kids – that’s what our club is all about.”
One of the club’s coaches recently spoke to players about his own past struggles with mental health to help generate awareness.
The club is exploring having a member be trained in youth mental health first-aid, with Mr Banks saying the club hopes the changes it is implementing will complement already existing services in the area. “I think we have enough services, they’re just not well enough known,” he said.
Anyone experiencing mental health problems can call Lifeline 13 11 14, the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or visit www.eheadspace.org.au