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Youth front and centre on mental health and wellbeing

Publish Date 17/03/2017

Seventy five students from six local schools gathered last Friday at a youth forum, organised by Port Stephens Council, to discuss issues around youth mental health and wellbeing.

Young people were given the opportunity to express themselves on the issue in a number ways - through creative workshops including drumming, painting, slam poetry, circus activities and also by sharing their thoughts on key recommendations from a recent study into the availability and pathways to mental health services for local young people.

"Students came from all the high schools across Port Stephens, probably the first time they have met in this way", said Council's Community Development and Engagement Coordinator,  Penny Amberg.

"A fantastic and unprecedented response from the schools on this important issue", she said.

"It builds on the success of the first youth forum in 2015 and the work of Council's Youth Advisory Panel."

International speaker Nic Newling, who suffers with a mood disorder and lost his brother to suicide, shared his story as the guest speaker, reassuring students that talking about these issues and sharing their feelings is part of their mental wellbeing.

According to Nic, it is crucial to talk about mental health without any stigma around mental illness.

"Getting help at an individual level or for the family requires community support and understanding".

"Council is integral in bringing the community together, stimulating discussions and supporting ways forward, and that is important", he said.