I had a lovely chat with Bonnie at Headspace in Lithgow
This was first published in the Lithgow Mercury :)
Be Kind To Your Mind
By Sue Daley
Welcome to the ‘Be Kind to Your Mind ‘Column, a place where you can learn about the different mental health supports available in the Lithgow area and get some insight into what motivates the individuals who work in them.
You will be able to find tips on strengthening your ability to cope with life’s pressures and stresses and also where to reach out for the right help if things get tough.
For my first interview I visited the soon to be opened ‘Headspace’ an organisation that offers mental health services for young people aged 12-25.
The first surprise I got was that to get to the entrance of Headspace you walk up Lithgow’s ‘Secret Lane’ with it’s many beautifully hand painted tiles this immediately creates a calming atmosphere that continues when you walk through the door and you are greeted by welcoming smiles and rooms that have been created to help you relax and feel safe; comfortable sofa’s and soft cushions are little touches that help someone realise they have come to a good place.
I quickly discovered that the staff members of Headspace are incredibly easy to talk to and I am really confident that they will provide a service that the young people of Lithgow will be able to connect with and trust.
The following interview is with Bonita Bassett the Youth Care coordinator for Headspace.
Who are the people your organization was created for?
Headspace is a one-stop-shop for young people aged 12-25. We offer mental health, physical health, vocational and education supports. We also host a variety of social groups for young people including LGBTIQA+ groups.
Further to that, we also provide support to parents and carers so they can understand how best to care for the young people in their lives.
Can you share an example of how individuals have benefitted from headspace?
Nationally, headspace has helped young people across Australia understand mental health and how to care for their wellbeing. We operate as a safe space for all young people to come and talk about anything that is concerning them.
What are the ways that people can connect with you?
Young people are more than welcome to walk in to the centre during our opening hours, they can call up, they can email but they also have the option to chat to a counsellor online at eheadspace.org.au
What strengths do you see revealed in the people you have supported?
It’s always incredible to see young people recognise their self-worth and realise the amazing things they can achieve. Their confidence and belief in themselves just skyrockets and we find a lot of young people want to use that help others in their situation. It’s a bit of a domino effect; young people really are the biggest advocates for the service.
Why did you choose to train in this sort of work?
I have always had a passion for helping other and for learning. I have found that working in youth mental health as a Youth Care Coordinator / Provisional Psychologist I can do both. It can be challenging at times, but it is also fun, rewarding, and can make a difference in people’s lives. I have met a wide variety of people, who are all fascinating, engrossing, surprising and unique who in return have made a difference in my life!
How do you look after yourself?
My role can be quite demanding, I put my everything into supporting young people and their families so my own self-care is really important. I like to unwind by taking my dogs for a walk or spending time with friends and family. Staying connected to the people around you is really important so I do try to also limit my screen time!
What lessons have you learnt from your work?
I’ve learnt that young people are really capable of anything. They have so much strength and resilience and can do amazing things when they start believing in themselves.
What is a valuable piece of advice you would give to the readers right now?
Talk about mental health. There is such a huge stigma associated with mental health and help-seeking behaviour but that needs to change. Always reach out to someone if you aren’t feeling like yourself and need to talk – also if someone approaches you needing support, it’s ok not to have the answers but always listen. Listening is very underrated.
So that is my first interview, I hope it was useful and that you will be able to reflect on it and consider if you or someone you know might benefit from this service. Over the coming months we will be interviewing many other people, these will not always be health professionals, as mental health and resilience can be strengthened by many non-medical interventions…so watch this space.
Remember you can get mental health support by talking to your gp or phoning one of the many phone support services.
Mensline Australia 24 Hour phone advice 1300 789 987
Beyond Blue 24 Hour advice 13 00 224 636
24 Hour Mental health Access line 1800 011 511
Lifeline Australia 24 Hours 13 11 14
(Crisis support and suicide prevention)