This week on Weekend Wonderings Dave discusses the New Suicide Prevention Program with Michelle Mitchell.
Teenage expert, author and award winning speaker Michelle Mitchell has over twenty years of experience tackling the distressing, confusing and fraught issue of suicide, self-harm and mental wellbeing in our young people and it’s far reaching impact on family and community.
Mitchell while applauding the much needed funding and awareness that the new Australian Suicide Prevention program will provide, she believes it’s time to look to grassroots, community driven programs if they hope to reduce suicide in young Australians, “There is currently a huge gap between crisis moment and the lead up. This is the gap that needs to be filled. When kids struggle with mental health it’s parents, community and practitioners working together identifying and managing those at risk before it’s too late that can create change.”
In her own experience it’s not only the individuals but the families that are reaching out for help, “Parents who have children struggling, doing all that they can at home, are beside themselves. They are reaching out for assistance, looking for mentoring programs, support groups, role models, care and connection points to gain help. I receive messages weekly from young people asking for help but challenged to find it in any other format accept a psychology room (expensive or limited) and a hospitals (which are often overrun and not ideal for many young people).”
Mitchell is not discounting the need for hospitals, psychologists and medication, “Seeing a psychologist or a stay in hospital has to be one ‘option’ in a diverse range of options that deal holistically with the individual, the family, their unique circumstances. These options are best delivered by grassroots, community programs which are creative, holistic and more flexible than can be offered by larger organisations,’ she said.
The stories of those that made it through tough times highlighted this need for community connections, “Young people would tell me that it was actually the ‘who” not the ‘what’ that made all the difference in their lives. However, they often only meet that person by coming in contact with caring adults who are committed to the cause, and that what we need more funding for.
“It’s not just the child who is affected, it is the whole family – their mental health, time, energy…what people need most of all is hope.” She said.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Headspace on 1800 650 890
Michelle Mitchell has written a number of books in the area of youth well-being including – Self Harm (March 2019) – and – Everyday Resilience (May 2019). Both books have been driven by not only her passion but her hands on work over nearly three decades to support youth and families under duress
Listen to the interview here