Psychologist Jill Hely says she is excited to be joining the team at Bellingen Youth Hub for the clinic that runs on Thursdays.
“My passion is working with young people because they have the potential to discover so much about themselves,” she said. “If they can work out who they want to be and what they stand for in the world it can lead on to amazing things, but mental health problems can often get in the way of that.”
Jill grew up in Tamworth and studied at the University of Sydney and the University of New England before moving to the Coffs Coast area several years ago.
She’s in private practice in Coffs Harbour and recognises that the normal process of being referred to a random psychologist via a GP can be quite anxiety-provoking.
“I love the way they do things here,” she said. “The trust builds up gradually, often over years.”
The clinic began in February 2013 and offers youth 12-24 years of age access to a doctor and a psychologist that is fully covered by Medicare.
Bellingen Shire Youth Workers also operate from the Youth Hub, and they are proactive in encouraging young people to seek help if necessary.
The youth workers, social workers, psychologists and doctors work as a team, with a focus on early intervention and a practice of sharing information (with permission) and keeping each other updated about how kids having difficulties are faring.
“We support young people with all sorts of health concerns but there are two major ones,” Youth Hub coordinator Dean Besley said. “Sexual health and mental health. And the great thing about the clinic being in the youth centre is that the kids are less embarrassed, because it’s just part of what we do.”
Dean is regularly approached by community groups from other places wanting to know how to duplicate the success the Bellingen Youth Hub clinic has achieved.
“Often they’ve got an expensive model in mind, but we tell them it’s all about community,” he said. “It works because we are supported by groups like the Bellingen Shire Youth Service, Three River Health, the Bellingen Healing Centre and North Bellingen Medical Centre. In fact the Commonwealth Bank just donated $500 from their staff fund to support us with consumables.”
Young people with concerns about their physical, sexual or mental health and wellbeing can make an appointment with the clinic 2pm–5.30pm on a Thursday during school terms.
They can also come without an appointment on Thursdays. Officially, the drop-in hours are 3pm–5.30pm, but Dean says people can and do drop in at any time from 10am if they need support.
Call (02) 6655 1121 for more information, or if you wish to make an appointment.