Combating drug dependency in local youth
THE number of young people struggling with drug addiction and mental illness on the mid north coast is growing.
That's according to Mission Australia, whose case workers have supported more than 500 young people, aged 13 to 18, since its 360 Outreach program launched last year.
The increasing demand however saw the not-for-profit organisation earlier this year identify a number of service gaps, including the geographical reach of the program, and a lack of mental health treatment services.
The North Coast Primary Health Network this week announced a $720,000 grant will be given to expand the program in a bid to empower young people to better manage their mental health and drug issues early, and reduce the number of young people admitted to hospital for these issues.
It's anticipated up to 700 young people will be supported through both group and individual interventions, with the service set to also include the Bellingen and Nambucca areas.
Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said the government was keen to reduce the "often devastating” impact of drug misuse on communities.
"When young people receive help in these early stages we can prevent them from needing further care and support them to get their lives back on track,” he said.
As part of the program, Mission Australia case workers go into schools on a weekly basis for one on one sessions or workshops.
Mission Australia's North Coast Regional Manager for 260 Outreach, Sarah Sherlock, said the funding means workshops can now be run both in schools and the community.
"It's an extra string to our bow and we're really excited about it. It gives young people a safe place to start to talk about what's going on for them,” she said.
Anyone can refer themselves to 360 Outreach. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 02 6658 7835.