A new pilot program at headspace will provide sexual health advice, medical assistance and support for chronic health conditions for young people in the Latrobe Valley.
A registered nurse will be at the centre in Morwell every Wednesday for free health advice, check-ups and referrals to GPs.
Caitlin Irwin, who is a member of the Youth Reference Group which informs the sort of services offered by headspace, said the initiative would help remove some of the barriers that prevent young people from accessing health care.
“I think it’s really important, especially being at headspace which such an open, non-judgmental safe space, I think a lot of people when they go to a doctor are not always completely honest about some things,” she told The Express.
“Especially if you didn’t already have a GP or someone you saw when you were younger, because you want to be comfortable with that person as well.
“It’s a bit scary to open up to someone and having those questions that you might not feel comfortable asking.
“Being able to come to a place like headspace, going to see someone who is free … and to be able to have that extended dialouge as well, it makes it more likely you’ll go back again.”
Registered nurse Barbara-Anne Edwards, or ‘Babs’ as she is affectionately known, will be at headspace in Morwell every Wednesday.
“I’ve come on board here to help with some of the conversations and education around sexual health, contraceptive advice, medication advice … any other concerns they might have,” Ms Edwards said.
“When they come in I let them know they don’t have to talk to me about anything they don’t want to, that it’s up to them to lead the conversation but I understand you’re here to talk about a specific topic.
“Normally within 15 minutes we’ve got a bit of a plan in place for them that they’ve helped develop themselves. Whether that’s me writing a letter to their GP on their behalf or they’ve got a planned follow-up with their GP or somebody else.”
Clinical lead Lachlan Davey said there was a clear link between ill mental health and ill physical health, and having a registered nurse on-site at headspace was a “fantastic” way of providing holistic care for young people in one place.
“It’s been really fantastic, we’ve often struggled previously having medical staff on site, so having a nurse available for young people who are experiencing physical health difficulties is … immensely needed,” he said.
“We know that one in four young people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition. We also know that young people may experience symptoms of that, that may experience physical health difficulties later in life.
“To have someone on board who is supportive of young people and open to discussing a wide range of issues when it comes to that physical side of it is ideal.”