Improved access to youth mental health services in the Manning and Great Lakes could be on the horizon, pending the outcome of Saturday's federal election.
The Nationals' candidate for Lyne Dr David Gillespie announced this week if the Liberals-Nationals Coalition is re-elected, it would fund $3.5 million to build a Headspace centre in Taree. This is part of a proposed nationwide expansion of the service.
Dr Gillespie said regional youth are entitled to mental heath assistance just as much as those in metropolitan areas so bringing a service such as Headspace to the Manning is paramount.
"Whether it's adjustment disorders, anxiety, the first signs of depressive illness or just support in a tricky time of adjustment, that's where Headspace comes in," Dr Gillespie said.
"We know if we intervene and support people through that period, you get a much better outcome."
The service is aimed at youth aged 12 to 25 who have or are at risk of mental illness. Jenny Sinclair, from Headspace Port Macquarie, knows too well how effective the service can be. Since the centre was launched in the Hastings five years ago, Ms Sinclair has seen first-hand what early intervention and ongoing support can do to the mental well-being of youth.
"It's about a facility that garners friends, family and the community's efforts into a bricks and mortar area they can focus on," she said.
"People can volunteer there, we've got allied health professionals that can make a difference to the young people in the area.
"The young people know it's like a wellness centre where they can come through that green door and they've got the support they need," Ms Sinclair said.
If the election doesn't go the way of the Coalition, Dr Gillespie hoped other major parties and sitting members would continue the roll out of Headspace to regional Australia.
Australian Labor Party candidate for Lyne Phil Costa was in full support of expanding mental health services in the area and the work of Headspace.
"I certainly support Headspace and anything for mental health we can give to the community, it's just so necessary," Mr Costa said.
He said the ALP has budgeted for mental health programs and policies across the country.
Independent candidate Jeremy Miller welcomed the announcement and said if elected as Member for Lyne he would push whichever party forms government to bring Headspace to Taree.
"I absolutely support it - we've really got to support youth mental health services in the area," Mr Miller said.
One in four people aged 16 to 24 experience a form of mental illness each year.
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