New headspace mental health support announced for Katoomba

The Morrison Government will establish a new headspace service in Katoomba to provide innovative mental health support for young people in the Blue Mountains.

Federal health minister Greg Hunt said the new $1.5 million headspace centre will provide vital services and deliver innovative support for young Australians in Macquarie.

From Left, Dr Michael Crampton (Nepean Blue Mountain Primary Health Network, GP Clinical Adviser), Gregory Lazarus (CEO Gateway Family Services), Senator Marise Payne, Elisa Manley (Nepean Blue Mountain Primary Health Network, Executive Manager) and Liberal candidate for Macquarie, Sarah Richards.

From Left, Dr Michael Crampton (Nepean Blue Mountain Primary Health Network, GP Clinical Adviser), Gregory Lazarus (CEO Gateway Family Services), Senator Marise Payne, Elisa Manley (Nepean Blue Mountain Primary Health Network, Executive Manager) and Liberal candidate for Macquarie, Sarah Richards.

"I want our young people to know they are not alone on their journey, and that headspace is there to deliver quality frontline services and coordinate the right interventions for people who are at risk," he said.

Wentworth Healthcare, provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, welcomed the announcement.

"We are passionate about improving the mental health of our local communities and are thrilled that Katoomba will receive funding for a headspace service to help address youth anxiety and depression," said Lizz Reay, CEO of Wentworth Healthcare.

"Together with the community we have been advocating for additional youth mental health services in our region for some time and we are pleased that the federal government has listened to these concerns and taken action," she said.

"We know that mental health and suicide are complex issues that are influenced by a number of interacting psychological, social and cultural factors. Early intervention programs such as headspace are critical as they not only impact young people's lives in the present but can influence the whole community as these young people mature into adulthood."

Wentworth Healthcare's executive manager, Elisa Manley and GP Clinical Lead Integrated Care, Dr Michael Crampton, attended the announcement in Katoomba on Tuesday (April 16).

Dr Crampton said "headspace is a service that helps to normalise the mental health concerns that young people may have, and promotes seeking appropriate and timely mental health care".

"From a GP perspective, the integration a patient's healthcare is very important and having this additional service in the area will help GPs and other primary health providers work together, build capacity and effectively coordinate care within the youth mental health space," he said.

Liberal candidate for Macquarie, Sarah Richards, said the headspace program aims to improve access for young people aged 12 to 25 years who have, or are at risk of, mental illness.

"I am thrilled that headspace will be offering early intervention services in Katoomba across four key areas-mental health, related physical health, social and vocational support, and alcohol and other drug use," she said.

"Services provide tailored and holistic mental health support, working closely with young people at a crucial time in their lives to help get them back on track and strengthen their ability to manage their mental health in the future."

Member for Macquarie, Labor's Susan Templeman, welcomed the announcement as a "start" but said the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury community had been crying out for dedicated youth mental health services for years.

"Until now, this has been ignored by the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments," she said.

"Having been the mother of a teenager in the Mountains experiencing mental ill health, I can only imagine how different my daughter and other teenagers lives might have been, had they had access to a headspace service locally.

"It's a start. There are many other gaps to be filled, as my community consultation has confirmed, and I will continue to advocate strongly for continual improvement mental health services for people of all ages.

"The revelation that the Liberals have a secret plan for a further $40 billion in cuts raises serious questions about how seriously they are taking mental health reform."

The new service in Katoomba is one of 30 new sites announced as part of the expansion of the headspace network from 115 to 145 sites nationally. It is expected that it will open by the middle of next year.