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Recovery Grant delivers mental health support for 'missing middle'

A grant program targeting flood-affected communities in the New England region has delivered significant improvements to the mental health and social connectedness of a complex cohort* who often fall through the gaps in existing services.

The ‘missing middle’ is a term used to describe people whose needs are not met by current mental health services. They are often too unwell for primary care, but not unwell enough for state-based services.

A group of ‘missing middle’ youth from the Moree, Narrabri and Gunnedah communities displaying signs of psychological distress, suicidal ideation and self-harm were given access to early intervention services.

The services were funded through a $50,000 grant to the Youth Insearch Foundation from the PHN’s Flood Recovery program.

On average over their first 90 days participating in the Youth Insearch Program the 102 young people reduced:

  • Psychological distress by 57 per cent from severe to mild
  • Suicide risk by 50 per cent from high to low risk
  • Criminal behaviour and offending by 38 per cent

About Youth Insearch

Youth Insearch is a comprehensive early intervention program of counselling, support, mentoring, and empowerment for at-risk young people aged 14-20, delivered through weekend workshops, support groups, peer support and leadership, and individual care.  

Over 12 months the project delivered:

  • 591 hours of support from Social Workers
  • 146 places in weekly Peer Support Groups
  • 124 attendences at Weekend Workshops

Youth Insearch General Manager, Program and Operations, James Fowles said the project had been of significant benefit to the young people involved and the broader community.

“The program works by allowing young people to confront and deal with the reality of the pain in their lives,” James said.

“The Weekend Workshops are facilitated by other young people that have experienced similar issues which helps build deep connections.”

“By drawing on the resources of those with lived experience, and addressing the real problem or underlying issue, these young people can seek positive alternatives within themselves, turning away from a life of despair and destructive behaviour.”

“The program intervenes early allowing young people to deal with their issues as they start to appear.”

“With more young people in the New England region getting access to better coordinated support the whole community stands to benefit. This creates generations of safe, connected, and healthy people to contribute to a better future for all.”

*Cohort intake data showed:

  • Majority reporting psychological distress
  • 44 per cent self-harmed in the preceding 12 months
  • 64 per cent planned to suicide in the past and 31 per cent have attempted suicide at least once
  • 24 per cent felt likely or very likely they would attempt suicide in the future

About the PHN's Flood Recovery Grants

In recent years, the Hunter New England Central Coast PHN region has experienced flood impacts in numerous communities. These flood events coupled with other recent events tested the resilience and well-being of our local communities.

Flood Recovery Grants were made available to support these communities to recover and to help build community emotional wellbeing and resilience, community connections, and emergency response capabilities.

Community grants were targeted towards activities supporting suicide prevention, identifying post-traumatic stress disorder, building resilience within the community, or providing social connectedness for communities that have suffered.

Weekend Workshop participants at Lake Keepit | Image Youth Insearch

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