Port Stephens opens Jupiter - A Space to Talk for young people with mental health issues

HELP IS HERE: Ambassador Ashleigh Price, who has benefited from the Jupiter program, in front of the Bannisters restaurant, the venue for an upcoming major fundraising event.

HELP IS HERE: Ambassador Ashleigh Price, who has benefited from the Jupiter program, in front of the Bannisters restaurant, the venue for an upcoming major fundraising event.

It's common practice for a person with a physical illness to be treated by a doctor, yet there's a stigma attached to someone with a mental illness being treated by a counsellor or psychologist.

With that in mind, COPSY (Caring for Our Port Stephens Youth) was established to impress upon young people that it is okay to feel anxious or depressed at times and during those times there is support available.

COPSY vice-president Geoffrey Basser said that the recent launch of 'Jupiter - A Space to Talk' had provided young people in Port Stephens with their first ever free mental health and counselling service on their doorstep - instead of travelling to Newcastle or Maitland.

"We are already starting to see the changes this program is making to the lives of those at-risk youth on the Tomaree peninsula," he said.

One person is Jupiter ambassador Ashleigh Price.

Ashleigh has struggled with various mental health problems over the course of her life.

"The signs of my illnesses became apparent during my teenage years when the roller-coaster of my journey began. This service is a much needed support for our youth and I am grateful to be a part of the journey," she said.

Jupiter is a community-driven service offering free treatment to people aged 12-18 years, within easy access to the area's high schools. It is also the culmination of five years of dedicated volunteers raising awareness and funds.

It is hoped that the service will expand to include Tilligerry, Medowie and Raymond Terrace.

Mr Basser said that the Jupiter program receives great support from the community including organisations such as Port Stephens Council, State Government, Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, Bannisters, Shoal Bay Country Club, Horizons, Belgravia Leisure and Nelson Bay Football Club.

However, fundraising continues to play a major role, with its next major event being a luncheon at the acclaimed Rick Stein restaurant Bannisters on Thursday, June 27.

"We seek the support of those who care about the work we do and the unique opportunity we provide Port youth in having a free, accessible and stigma-free access to 'a space to talk'."

The luncheon will feature a Rick Stein inspired four-course meal. Phone (02) 4919 3800.

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