COPSY is a community group whose purpose is to ensure that the best possible independent Youth Health and Wellbeing Service is established to satisfy the needs of all young people who are at risk in Port Stephens.
COPSY ordered a study to be conducted by researchers at the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health based in Newcastle University which was funded by the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network and Port Stephens Council.
The focus of the study was more than 10,000 children aged 12-24 years in the Port Stephens Local Government Area.
Following literature reviews, interviews, questionnaires and two workshops, the research team found that the most common issues are anxiety, depression and alcohol and drug use.
Factors associated to these experiences included histories of trauma, violence in the home, family breakdowns and a lack of stable role models.
Experiences of stigma and community disengagement from work, school and recreation also potentially exacerbated poor mental health.
Previous studies have found one in six males aged 12-17 years experienced mental disorders and older youth aged 16-24 experienced more problems than any other age group.
The good news is that our schools are providing good support, our beautiful environment lifts spirits and there are more online and other support services available than what many people think.
However, our geography makes it hard to get to services, with many of the important services being in Newcastle or Maitland.
COPSY is currently looking at which of the 18 recommendations in the report should be pursued first and how.
A select group of community representatives working at the coal face of youth mental health met on Wednesday night to consider options.
“This is where the work begins, getting the report on the state of youth mental health was important,” COPSY President John de Ridder told News Of The Area.
“Doing something about it is where the rubber hits the road and we are just starting that journey now,” he added.
Mr de Ridder also explained that this is not a COPSY project and that improving youth mental health in Port Stephens is a community project.
The outcomes will be shared with youth at the second major youth mental health forum on 10 March, organised by the Youth Advisory Panel with the Port Stephens Council.
By Jewell DRURY