The Youth Centre
The early intervention centre is located within the Tomaree Library complex; which is walking distance from two major high schools, a shopping centre and reliable bus transport. It also addresses ‘stigma’ and privacy, as it is easier for young people to go to the library precinct than see a school counsellor or attend a GP’s rooms.
Our centre will provide a place young people between the ages of 12 to 18 years can go to for help that is free, youth-friendly, accessible and flexible. It will encourage respect, tolerance and understanding of the mental health and diversity issues among young people.
The centre will provide opportunities for young people to engage in an empowering environment and assistance to develop social skills to build relationships and enhance community resilience.
COPSY has an office and a counselling room in the community/library complex. A large hall adjacent to the reception area (the Waratah Room) can be hired for workshops and meetings to address promotion and awareness of youth mental health issues.
The rooms are provided on an exclusive basis to COPSY for counselling and small group meetings. They will be used by:
- psychologists and social workers;
- special interest groups.
Funding was been secured for the office fit-out including office equipment, computerised administration systems as per creditable health services and youth friendly design/furniture. The two local high schools (Tomaree High School and St Phillips Christian College) are enthusiastic and students at the two high schools have contributed ideas for making the counselling room youth friendly.
A COPSY Model
COPSY has identified and visited possible models of local youth mental health services at headspace (Maitland and Newcastle), KYDS (Lindfield, Northern Sydney), Gisborne (Country Victoria) and Bellingen. They each have different approaches and resources that have informed our model.
COPSY’s mission is to make things happen. It can do that through advocacy, raising funds and facilitating services to collaborate and collaborate with others to improve youth well-being..
COPSY has employed a part-time office manager and a social worker. It also has part-time, independent psychologists.
The operating team above will be complemented by volunteer youth social workers and (bulk-billed) GP(s). Private mental health practitioners in the local area could also provide psychology services as required.
Referrals to service will be predominantly from schools, GP’s, community organisations, families and self-referral.
How will we know if Plans are Achieved?
Evaluation and assessment will provide evidence that the program is achieving the aims. COPSY will collect qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate that the program is:
- Providing an effective mental health early intervention and prevention service.
- Meeting timeline and objective benchmarks.
- Meeting delivery/participation outcomes.
- Using suitable content to enhance education and learning for youth, families, carers, teachers, counsellors and community members.
- Sustainable and can be extended to other areas of Port Stephens.
Measuring improved health outcomes is challenging, as publicly available health statistics are not granular enough for a local area.
Some possible key indicators that we aim to use include:
- Reduction of the number of suicides and hospital admissions in the community.
- Reduction of the incidence of police, ambulance and emergency services dealing with crises involving the mental health of young people.
- Feedback from GP’s on the number of Mental Health Care Plans for young people.
- Administered surveys across schools.
- Wellbeing measures such as attendance (days/periods missed) and number of behavioural issues per student and per year group.
COPSY will seek to build on its existing relationships with the Centre for Rural Mental Health (part of the Newcastle University) and the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network.
Ongoing research will form an integral part of the information on the improvement of the mental health of young people in the Port Stephens area.
How will COPSY be sustainable?
COPSY is reliant on community fundraising, philanthropy and grants. COPSY is registered as a charity so donations are tax deductible.
Medicare funded mental health plans for participants, and psychologists will mean that professional costs can be reduced.