Gearing up to support youth mental health

Four of WA’s healthcare leaders are gearing up for a 700 kilometre plus ride of their lives to raise awareness of and funds for youth mental health services in WA’s regional communities.

Hard in training for the Hawaiian Ride for Youth 2021, the WA Primary Health Alliance team – comprising Learne Durrington, Mark Cockayne, Wayne Salvage and Giles Nunis – will ride from Albany to Perth, stopping at high schools en route to talk to students about depression, self-harm and suicide, and the support services available to them.

Statistics reveal youth suicide in Australia is increasing and the youth suicide rates in regional WA are equal to or greater than the state rate.

Like her fellow team members, Ms Durrington, CEO of WA Primary Health Alliance, will step away from her leadership role for five days, in her case for her 6th ride.

“Working in primary health care, I am acutely aware of the impact mental health has on families and communities,” Ms Durrington said.

“What we know, and what the evidence tells us, is that with a multi-level approach, mental health issues including suicide can be reduced.

“That means community leadership and awareness is strong, there is good access to community support and local primary care clinicians feel equipped to screen, treat and support at-risk young people.”

Ms Durrington said integration of these elements can have a real impact.

“Doing one element will make little difference – a concurrent focus on all elements is the key,” she said.

Ms Durrington said the ride is an opportunity to raise awareness and engage community leaders and to contribute towards the funding of community support for young people, particularly in communities where there is a higher risk and a greater number of suicides per capita.

“The emphasis is on community facilitators who engage early, help build resilience in young people and offer a safe place for discussing individual challenges and issues,” she said.

“The great thing about the Hawaiian Ride for Youth is the teams of riders stop in at country towns where we know some of the risks are greater for young people.”

Ms Durrington and her peloton will leave Albany on March 23 and stop in at Frankland River, Bridgetown, Colie and Mandurah, before finishing at Kings Park on 27 March.

In addition to the ride itself, the WA Primary Health Alliance team is firmly focused on fundraising for this extremely worthy cause, with all proceeds going to Youth Focus.

They are banking on filling all 200 spots at five virtual webinars themed Beyond the Pandemic, Living with COVID, hosted by media personality and physician, Dr Norman Swan and featuring national experts on COVID-19 and its impacts on physical and mental health, and young people.

In 2021, the Hawaiian Ride for Youth will be celebrating its 19th birthday, having raised over $24 million since its inception.

Find out more and book your ticket for all or one of the five webinars.