Australian mental health organization headspace inaugurated a new treatment center in Jerusalem last week, offering improved early clinical intervention for the city’s young residents.
The center, headspace’s second in Israel to date, aims to enable young people aged 12-25 to receive free assistance for issues affecting their psychological wellbeing.According to a recent study published by Enosh – The Israeli Mental Health Association, the operators of headspace centers in Israel, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Israeli children age 13-18 report having experienced a mental health problem or crisis.
The research found that 78% of teenage girls reported previous mental health issues, compared with 66% of teenage boys.
Almost one-third of respondents (32%) said they had experienced mental health problems on at least three separate occasions.Headspace, which opened its first Israeli center in Bat Yam in December 2014, operates more than 100 mental health support centers across Australia.
The Israeli centers are modeled on the clinical and strategic model of its Australian partner, which has assisted more than 550,000 children and young adults since it was established in 2006.
“It is a service heavily designed by young people for young people, for them to feel safe and secure in talking about what is on their mind, where mental health has perhaps become a barrier, and they’re looking for some guidance,” headspace CEO Jason Trethowan told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the inauguration.
“Sometimes it’s just someone who will listen to them, and often where they need some kind of therapeutic intervention in order to help them.”
Early and appropriate interventions are critical, he said, as research shows that 75% of mental health problems are established by age 24.
“Mental health is not something that’s new – it has always been there,” said Trethowan. “Part of the role of headspace is to identify the barriers for seeking help, in the same way that we would if we had a sore shoulder, or signs and symptoms of cancer.”
“We found pretty quickly, and its no different in other parts of the world, that stigma is a big barrier.”
Data published by Enosh showed that the leading barrier to receiving treatment, among 40% of teenagers, was fear of shame.
Other obstacles included the belief that treatment does not help (38%), fear that treatment will negatively impact their future (24%), and that treatment is too expensive (23%).
While the Australian centers are almost entirely funded by the government, the Israeli centers are reliant on a combination of funding from Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute) and donations from home and abroad.
The new center, located in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem, has the capacity to treat 1,000 individuals annually. Like the first center in Bat Yam, supported by the local municipality, the physical site is provided by the Jerusalem Municipality. Operations are financed through government support and private donations.
Efforts to raise global awareness regarding youth mental healthcare received a welcome boost recently as the World Economic Forum showed an interest for the first time in identifying a global framework for mental health support and treatment.
“The reason they’re interested is the economic component – good mental health will result in good mental wealth,” said Trethowan.
“We know that if the mental health component is addressed early in life, you can be active participants in the workplace, contributing to society and paying taxes.”