Children in crisis helped

Melissa Harrison in the consulting rooms that create a home-like feel for children.
Melissa Harrison in the consulting rooms that create a home-like feel for children.

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

It has spent a year developing the InFocus counselling service to cater for children aged up to 11 who have, or risk developing, mental disorders.

‘This is a highly specialised field,’ program co-ordinator Melissa Harrison said. ‘Working with kids, you can’t sit down and just ask what they are feeling.’

With this in mind, staff members have transformed their consulting rooms in Bentley and Maddington, downplaying clinical touches and creating a home-like feel.

Psychologists, clinical psychologists and credentialed mental health nurses at these offices, and in private rooms across the south-east, sit at smaller chairs and tables with children who can eat 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.

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.

‘Many of our clients say they have looked for a service like this for years.

– Children in crisis should call Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.