Hobart’s Headspace centre minds when it matters

Awareness  of mental health and wellbeing has led to soaring demand for a Hobart youth health service.

Hobart’s Headspace centre, a mental health service for 12 to 25-year-olds, has seen demand increase as stigma in the community has reduced.

Manager Miranda Ashby said she welcomed the extra demand as it showed young people were open to talking and seeking help for issues such as anxiety and depression.

“The stigma around mental health is really breaking down,” she said.

Hobart Headspace centre manager Miranda Ashby. Picture: RICHARD JUPE Hobart Headspace centre manager Miranda Ashby. Picture: RICHARD JUPE

Headspace has a strong focus on self care, helping young people with tips and strategies to improve their mental health — such as apps that teach meditation and breathing exercises. The Hobart Headspace performed 4300 services in the 2015-16 financial year — way above the national Headspace centre average of 3000.

The service saw 1169 young people last financial year, including 754 new clients. The busy client base makes the Hobart office one of the top five busiest Headspace offices in Australia, Ms Ashby said.

But she said the federally funded service could do with more resources.

Headspace deals mostly with mild to moderate mental health issues but acts as a gateway to other services for more severe conditions.

As well as youth counsellors and psychologists, it has four GPs to help with mental health care plans, general health and sexual health. One of the service’s clinical psychologists, Bethany Smith, said the growth in demand was mostly due to growing awareness rather than a large increase in problems among young people. Ms Smith said the centre dealt with a wide range of issues, with many young people facing anxiety around school pressure and relationships.

Many could be guided through some self-care tips, while others might benefit from some sessions with a psychologist. Ms Smith said one of the easiest ways to communicate with youth was through technology, so a range of apps had been developed to help with mental health and wellbeing.

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