There can be no better testimonial for the value of mental health services than hearing from the “horse's mouth” the impact they can have on individuals and the wider community.
In the case of Headspace, the service dedicated to mental health for the young, this quite literally means saving lives. Today’s feature details several poignant stories of individuals for whom Headspace has done just that.
Suicide is a tragedy on so many levels, the loss of an individual life; the sinister resonating repercussions on the lives of friends and family, the ineluctable regret that taints the memory of all that someone was.
This is all the more heartbreaking when the person is young and all those left behind can only think of the unlived potential.
In the past silence was the grim, often unconscious partner in exacerbating the problem. Mental health as a subject was taboo, depression was weakness.
A mental illness was a brand that cast the individual out from normal life, often without succour or help.
Suicide was one ugly conclusion of this chain of exclusion that society in turn pulled the curtain of silence down upon.
As a major problem facing society it is astounding how scant the attention, how poor the records were on such a major killer.
What new awareness around depression and mental health and investment in the appropriate services has shown over the last decade is that many of these tragedies are preventable.
The statistics may be elusive but the stories of individual triumph over this adversity tell so much more and the stories of tragedies averted are worth telling.
When Ballarat Headspace made its long-awaited arrival in the region this newspaper applauded the investment and forward thinking of those who saw a particular problem with young people and the need for dedicated services.
The Courier has also commended the Governments who have taken this issue seriously enough to consider this health investment as so much more than a line on a budget.
What Headspace has proved is often in simple ways; creating a welcome space for young people whose lives may be inexorably troubled elsewhere, is the first step to them helping themselves.
Mental health is complex and not simply resolved but it may be these first steps that set young people on the path to wellness and self-worth and that is a great investment in Ballarat’s future.