Head space for mentally ill youth in Dandenong 

Roar honesty: Daniel Jackson has used his profile to promote headspace’s Dandenong centre. Picture: Cameron Lucadou-Wells


WRESTLING with Demons on the football field recently cost Richmond AFL footballer Daniel Jackson a fine, but he tackled a different fight in Dandenong last Monday.

Jackson, with federal Mental Health Minister Mark Butler, helped launch a long-awaited headspace mental health centre in central Dandenong.

It will provide free help and advice to young people in Melbourne’s south-east for issues such as bullying, depression, anxiety and relationship problems.

Jackson said such a friendly and inviting space would be handy for young people — even for himself when he was a budding 17-year-old AFL draftee at Carey Grammar.

He said young men found it hard to talk to other people. He remembers silently suffering anxiety, debuting for Richmond while completing his VCE at Carey in 2004.

‘‘The more I kept it to myself the worse it got,’’ he said. ‘‘As an AFL footballer, you have to deal with the high expectations and scrutiny. To have people to support you makes a difference.’’

That difference for him came from his school’s counsellor. ‘‘headspace is trying to change that [mental health stigma], to be seen as a good way to seek help,’’ Jackson said.

The luminously green-coloured headspace centre aims to be a welcoming, free and confidential hub for 12-25 year olds of all backgrounds.

Each week, about 70 referrals and walk-in clients sit in the comfortable, bright chairs and chat with psychologists, social workers or GPs.

The headspace centre is open Monday-Saturday at 196 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong. Details: 1800 FOR YOU (1800 367 968) or headspace.org.au.

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