Mental Health Week: Belmont-based Youth Focus encourages sufferers to seek help


Youth Focus chief executive officer Fiona Kalaf wants people to seek help during Mental Health Week.
Youth Focus chief executive officer Fiona Kalaf wants people to seek help during Mental Health Week.

YOUTH Focus is encouraging people living with mental health issues to be courageous and seek help during Mental Health Week.

Following the release of Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2015 Causes of Death data, which showed that there were more than 3000 deaths from suicide in a year for the first time, the Burswood-based organisation wants people to use mental health services.

Youth Focus chief executive officer Fiona Kalaf said the statistics, including 394 deaths from suicide in WA, were unacceptable.

“From Youth Focus’ perspective, we would like to see governments and individuals talk more openly about mental illness,” she said.

“We have seen more than 18,000 people since 2000 and only one of those have been lost to suicide; 92 per cent of those people have depression and 77 per cent have anxiety.

“It’s important for people to be brave and seek help because it does reduce the risk of suicide.

“About 50 per cent of Australians will experience mental illness at some point at their lives and I think everyone has been affected first hand or through a loved one.”

Ms Kalaf said early intervention was a key point that the organisation was pushing during Mental Health Week.

“There are benefits from seeking help, whether that’s from family, school counsellors, sports coaches, employees, GPs or clinical psychologists,” she said.

“About 70 per cent of all mental health illnesses are present before the age of 25 but some people wait until they are in their 40s before they seek help.

“The barriers to seeking helping can be knowledge of the signs or mental illness or the services available, accessibility of services and the biggest barrier is the stigma of mental health issues.”

Ms Kalaf said her tips for people to stay mentally healthy were to stay hydrated, exercise and eat well.

“There is evidence that by doing that, it can make a positive difference to people’s mental health.”