Australia’s national youth mental health foundation, headspace, has welcomed a federal Government announcement of funding for the establishment of 15 new headspace centres around Australia.

Acting CEO Liz Burgat said that the arrival of headspace in these new areas would make a real difference to the lives of young people.

“Since inception, headspace has helped more than 50,000 young people overcome mental health problems. The expansion will help headspace reach many more young Australians in need,” Burgat said.

“In many cases it will be the first time young people in these areas will have access to the full range of related mental services offered by headspace in the one place.”

Headspace provides early intervention mental health services to Australians aged 12-25.

To inform the placement of centres, extensive investigations were undertaken to identify the areas of greatest need across Australia.

The new headspace centres will be operational in 2013 and will bring the total number of headspace centres to 55.

The new centres are part of the $197.3 million funding commitment for headspace announced in the May federal gudget. There are currently 30 headspace centres operating across Australia with a further 10 to open in early 2012.

“This round of headspace centres will increase the access to youth mental health services in metropolitan areas while also extending out to large densely populated regional areas without an existing headspace centre,” Burgat said.

The establishment of a comprehensive online and telephone counselling service called eheadspace, which begins as a 24-hour service today, will also further boost headspace’s coverage to young Australians.

“We know from the successful eheadspace pilot that many young Australians are comfortable with online counselling and it can especially benefit people who have previously been forced to travel hours to the nearest face-to-face services,” Burgat said.

The new headspace locations selected are:

New South Wales – Tamworth, Lower Hunter, Port Macquarie, Sydney Outer West and Blue Mountains (Penrith), Northern Suburbs of Sydney

Victoria – Shepparton, South East (Dandenong), Outer East (Ringwood/Knox), Ballarat

Queensland – Mackay, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast

Western Australia – Bunbury, Perth North East

South Australia – Upper Spencer Gulf

In addition, two outpost services, overseen by existing headspace centres, will be established at Mt Isa (QLD) and Burnie/Devonport (TAS).

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