FOR one couple and their team of passionate volunteers, suicide rates are unacceptable.
They have been working to change the story on youth mental health through a back to basics, yet innovative approach of providing youth and their families with a safe home.
Homestead For Youth, a farm home in Meelon, near Pinjarra, has been quietly and successfully welcoming hundreds of young people each month through their gates since 2014.
But chief executive Carla Fadelli and her husband Marty can no longer lease the farm and are appealing for funding to help buy it.
“I have always worked with and for young people,” Ms Fadelli said.
“I was a registered psychologist, initially working with young people in high needs schools before meeting my husband and starting our journey of caring for young people with emergency, residential and long term living arrangements.”
“We became frustrated with the statistics on youth mental health, and especially from experiencing first hand the gaps in the systems for young people, placed in the bracket of “able to help themselves” yet clearly not able to do so.”
That frustration, combined with a knowledge they can and want to make a difference, became what is today Homestead For Youth.
At the farm, youths and their families are offered residential services, access to mentoring, counselling, psychology care and a range of innovative, holistic therapies such as car restoration, arts and music and an animal farm sensory experience – the first in WA.
One of the Homestead’s strong approaches to supporting youth mental health is through their strength-based suicide prevention program – Choose Life Today. They work to empower young people at risk (and their families) with essential coping skills and hope.
“Away from the four walls of a clinical room, we noticed great results when we take our youth therapy sessions outside, near the animals, around farm activities,” Ms Fadelli said.
“At our farm, teens who refused to see psychologists would all of a sudden want to talk to us.
“Teenage boys roll up their windows and eagerly get out of the cars when they see the farm and the animals.”
Now, the Fadellis are inviting the WA community to play a part in preventing youth suicide, by helping them keep their farm home.
“We have leased our farmstead in Meelon since 2017 but can no longer do so,” Ms Fadelli said.
“To continue working towards achieving a better story ending for our young people, their mental health and their future, we need to buy the farmstead.”
“Homestead For Youth needs to raise more than $1.4 million to make this 148 acre farm a safe refuge for WA youths by the third quarter of 2019.”
She said the organisation was working with dedicated volunteers and local supporters to raise funding in a range of ways, including a Christmas Appeal crowdfund, a car rally, a corporate breakfast and more.