Getting help made as easy as child’s play

Melissa Harrison is InFocus co-ordinator at Bentley-Armadale Medicare. Picture: David Baylis d405962
Melissa Harrison is InFocus co-ordinator at Bentley-Armadale Medicare. Picture: David Baylis d405962

The organisation connects residents from the South Perth, Victoria Park, Belmont, Canning, Serpentine Jarrahdale, Gosnells and Armadale areas with health services.

It spent a year developing its InFocus counselling service for children up to 11 years who have, or risk developing, mental disorders.

‘This is a highly specialised field,’ program co-ordinator Melissa Harrison said.

‘With kids, you can’t sit down and just ask what they are feeling.’

Staff have transformed their consulting rooms in Bentley and Maddington, downplaying clinical touches for a home-like feel.

Psychologists, clinical psychologists and credentialed mental health nurses at these offices, and in private rooms in the south-east, sit at smaller chairs and tables with children who can graze on healthy snacks, play with toys and draw pictures.

‘These are all things kids can have fun and express themselves with and make them want to come back,’ Ms Harrison said.

‘This can be scary for the parents as well, and it makes it easier for them.’

Ms Harrison said many children came in with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD and behavioural problems.

‘Parents don’t want their kids labelled, and seeking help can be frightening, but it can help with issues early and stop these becoming bigger problems,’ she said.

‘It’s little to no cost, about $30 for those who can afford it, and we have removed the barrier of the waitlist ” in fact it’s a challenge to get referrals.

‘Clients have looked for a service like this for years.’

– Call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800