Children and young people living on the Mid-North Coast and in Western Sydney and who are engaging in serious self-harming behaviour or having ongoing thoughts of suicide can now access practical, non-clinical support in their communities to help their recovery.
Nationals Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the newly opened Coffs Harbour and Blacktown-based services are part of an innovative trial of child and youth-specific Aftercare services by the NSW Nationals in the state and federal governments.
“Coming out of acute care can be really overwhelming, so it is critical to connect these vulnerable young people with the right support outside of the hospital setting so they can reconnect and reengage with their family, friends and community,” Mrs Taylor said.
“This bold and innovative approach is all about keeping more children and young people safe by providing practical, caring support to help them re-discover hope for their future.
“We know that what works for adults doesn’t necessarily work for younger people, which is why this service has been co-designed by young people who’ve been in their shoes and understand how frightening life can be after a suicide attempt.”
Aftercare is a non-clinical service provided in the immediate months after someone has attempted suicide or engaged in serious self-harming practices. As a model of care, this type of support has been highly effective for adults.
The service focuses on providing support that responds to individual needs. This includes one-on-one and group activities that will help a person thrive in their day-to-day life.
This could include developing coping skills, strengthening relationships with family and friends, identifying education or work opportunities, managing addiction, or finding secure housing.
The new youth-specific services, led by New Horizons, have been co-designed with young people with lived experience of suicide, subject matter experts, and a consortium of support agencies. Further trial sites will open in Tamworth and South West Sydney later this year.
New Horizons employs Children and Young People Champions – people with lived experience of suicide whose role is to create an empathetic and safe environment for anyone seeking support.
Coffs Harbour Champion Daisy said any child, young person, parent, or carer is welcome to get in touch if they think they could benefit from the service.
“When a young person comes to us, I hope to give them the support I didn’t have,” Daisy said. “I want to help them build the foundations of a healthy life.”
Youth Aftercare is being jointly funded by the NSW Nationals in the state government and through the Commonwealth Health Innovation Fund. It is in addition to the $87 million investment by the NSW Nationals in the state government in new initiatives under the Towards Zero Suicides strategy; a Premier’s Priority.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 (Triple Zero) or one of these services: Lifeline 13 11 14 | Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 | NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511.