Reach out and make a difference

September 14, 2017

Shepparton headspace staff members Brett O'Keeffe, Josie Carlin, Caroline French, Jacqueline Bentley and Courtney Gordon supporting R U OK? Day.

Shepparton headspace general manager Caroline French believes everyone has a role to play in checking in on their friends and family this R U OK? Day today.

‘‘Sometimes people feel that it’s none of their business so it might put them off,’’ she said.

‘‘But it can never hurt to let people know you care.’’

This week, headspace staff will spend time at a number of different schools around the area spreading this message.

‘‘It’s about spotting a bit of a problem, if you’re noticing that someone isn’t themselves, not returning calls or turning up to events,’’ Ms French said.

‘‘Pick your moment, a time that is appropriate, be relaxed, friendly and listen to their story.

‘‘It’s not necessarily about solving their problems but the fact you’ve reached out may encourage them to reflect.’’

Ms French said there was still a lot of pressure on young kids these days to be perfect students at high school.

‘‘Your ATAR is not the only way to get places ... there are a lot of expectations that you have to follow this particular route,’’ she said.

‘‘We all stuff up sometimes, we’ve got to give ourselves room to do that and when we start being kinder to ourselves it can make a real difference.’’

Shepparton headspace is a youth mental health initiative offering support to young people aged 12 to 25 years on a range of issues.

Those issues include stress, anxiety, bullying, sexuality, alcohol use, sexual health and family relationship issues.

‘‘We’re about making services more accessible so more young people can get help,’’ Ms French said.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can phone Lifeline on 131114.


Suicide is a prominent public health concern and remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44.

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data, the average number of suicide deaths per year from 2011 to 2015 was 2687.

Lifeline Australia says this is the highest rate in the country in more than 10 years.

Mental disorders such as major depression, psychotic illnesses and eating disorders are associated with an increased risk of suicide.

Deaths by suicide in Australia occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females.

In 2015, 75.6 per cent of people who died by suicide were male.

The suicide rate for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander People (25 per 100000) is twice as high as non-indigenous people (12.5 per 100000), according to Lifeline Australia.

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