YOUNG people in regional areas with mental health problems are commonly forgotten by the system, according to an expert in the field.
University of Sydney School of Rural Health associate professor Catherine Hawke said there was a lack of services available in regional areas and children often did not know how to seek help.
She would like to see a youth forum set up in the region, inviting all schools in the central west to get together to help address the problem.
“You need to identify the people before they get to the point of severe depression,” she said.
That was the emphasis of a youth forum hosted by the university at the Bloomfield campus last week.
The Youth Health Forum Building and Supporting the Mental Fitness of Young People was streamed live from The Children’s Hospital Westmead to the School of Rural Health in Dubbo and Orange on Wednesday.
Dr Hawke said the turn-out from community members and health organisations was promising,with the issue of mental health in young people becoming increasingly prevalent.
She said there were warning signs to watch out for in children who were at risk of developing mental health problems.
“Children who are quite anxious, withdrawn, have trouble socialising and are difficult to manage who otherwise would not be,” she said.
Dr Hawke said it was important for parents and teachers to work together to talk with the child and help them access the services they need.
“We know that one in four young people experience mental health issues and it is a matter of connecting young people with the services that are available and letting them know what is there,” she said.
She said the youth forum would equip schools with the knowledge of how to spot children in trouble and where to get help.