3 January 2023
Mind Australia Community Mental Health Practitioner Alicia Hodgson knows firsthand the importance of being able to access appropriate and timely mental health support for young people.
Alicia works at the Mind-managed headspace centres in Greensborough and Plenty Valley – services that provide young people and their families with clinical and social support for their mental health and wellbeing.
Alicia said she started working with Mind three years ago motivated by her own lived experience of mental ill-health, and the difficulties she faced accessing support.
“As a child, I didn’t have a whole lot of options for support for my own mental health,” Alicia said.
“I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when I was 27, prior to that I had an anxiety disorder and depression from a very young age. When I learnt how to manage my ASD, my anxiety and depression improved significantly.”
“If there was more awareness and more support options at the time, I think my experience may have turned out differently. I want to be able to provide other people with the support that I wish I would have had at that age.”
In her work as a Mind Community Mental Health Practitioner, taking the time to build a strong rapport with a young person can make all the difference.
Alicia said young people are more likely to share their emotions through counselling if trust and a meaningful connection has been established.
“My approach is pretty informal; I’ve found that this works best for young people. To have an adult try and meet them on their level and engage with them by talking about their interests,” Alicia said.
“I like to have conversations rather than jump straight in to coping strategies. Building up that relationship helps them to be open when it’s time for therapeutic support.”
In December 2022 Alicia won an organisational excellence award for her commitment to supporting young people and maintaining a client focus in everything she does.
Alicia ensures that client wellbeing is always at the forefront of her practice by empowering clients to take charge of their recovery journeys, in the knowledge that she will be there to support and advocate for them.
“I spend the first session with a new client by letting them know that they are in the driver’s seat,” she said.
“I’m guided by what they want to do. It’s their mental health; they are the experts in what is going on for them in their lives. I always ask what is it that they want to work on that day.
“I find that young people generally don’t feel that their voices are heard. Being able to keep them front and centre helps to make them feel validated in their experiences and how they are feeling.”
About headspace Greensborough and Plenty Valley
headspace is a one-stop shop where young people and their families can access clinical and social support.
Headspace offers information, advice and support on: mental health and wellbeing; general health; alcohol and other drugs; education, employment and other services. Mind manages the Plenty Valley and Greensborough headspace centres.
To learn more about Mind Australia support services near you contact Mind Connect on 1300 286 463.
If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.