Mental Health Month: COPSY seeing new fundraising streams for Jupiter youth counselling service

FUNDRAISERS: COPSY board members Geoff Basser and Brooke Vitnell are seeking new fundraising streams for the successful Jupiter program.
FUNDRAISERS: COPSY board members Geoff Basser and Brooke Vitnell are seeking new fundraising streams for the successful Jupiter program.

For many charitable organisations around Port Stephens, Mental Health Month in October has been instrumental in shining a light on the issues around mental health and well-being.

For many of these groups the number of high profile individuals and organisations - from the media and governments to those from the social, community and health sectors - has ensured that the 'tune In' theme has helped with building self-awareness, making effective choices, reducing the impact of worry, and building positive connections.

Each year the nationwide campaign shines a light on the issue of mental health and well-being, while providing event organisers the opportunity to raise awareness and to promote activities and ideas that can have a positive impact on the daily lives of those living with the condition and their families.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 meant many of the events and ideas which are customarily staged during the nationwide campaign have had to be severely restricted in 2020.

For Caring For Our Port Stephens Youth (COPSY), which provides free youth counselling under the banner of Jupiter on the Tomaree Peninsula, and soon the Tilligerry Peninsula, the work - both online and face-to-face - carries on regardless.

And so does the fundraising, or the scheme falls over.

COPSY board members and fundraisers Geoff Basser and Brooke Vitnell say many of the charity organisation's funding streams have almost dried up as a result of the pandemic.

"Notwithstanding we are very fortunate that a number of individuals continue to be more than generous [with donations]," Mr Basser said. "We have survived and will continue to survive, thanks to our dedicated donors and schemes such as Medicare rebates."

He said that the ever increasing number of youth using the service was proof that the program was saving lives and worth continuing.

For Ms Vitnell, it was clear that state and federal funding support was needed now more than ever.

"Previously Jupiter has survived from philanthropic sources of funding but the impact of COVID-19 and the hits to businesses in the region has meant that a lot of Jupiter's charity and fundraising events have been stalled, leaving Jupiter in a financially stressful situation," she said.

"Jupiter is also a victim of geography, and to date there have been issues in having Jupiter seen as supporting a catchment area that Raymond Terrace, Maitland and Newcastle do not presently support.

"The program is the only youth mental health hub in Port Stephens and it is integral to Jupiter's long term survival that appropriate funding streams from state and federal governments are allocated."

Anyone interested in supporting the group's fundraising efforts can go to jupiter.org.au.

Jupiter is not a crisis service. Phone the mental health line on 1800 011 511 or Lifeline 13 11 14.