Tassie’s place of healing

LAUNCESTON man Garrison Lewandowski credits mental health program Headspace with saving his life and says the expansion of services in Tasmania will mean more people can get the help they so desperately need.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek was in Devonport yesterday to launch a new Headspace outpost as part of a $197 million Rudd Government initiative.

Headspace caters for 12 to 25-year-olds and is operating at 55 sites around Australia.

Ms Plibersek said the expansion of the program, which began in 2011 and is funded until 2016, would result in 90 Headspace sites being established to help up to 72,000 young people each year.

“Being young is complicated and your teenage years are not always the best years of your life,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Mental health is a huge and significantly under-reported area, and it is vital young people who are experiencing difficulties know they have somewhere to turn where they can receive quality help in a welcoming and non-judgmental environment.”

The Launceston Headspace office has been open for five years and has already dealt with 15,000 cases.

Gaming addiction was a troubling emerging trend in Tasmania and had been shown to lead to adult gambling addiction, a Headspace spokeswoman said.

Mr Lewandowski said his slide began in high school and led to self-harm and drinking.

“I became disengaged and moved into weed, acid and nitrous-oxide. To call me paranoid was an understatement,” he said.

Mr Lewandowski started using meth amphetamine after moving to Perth.

“I went into a lifestyle of a full-blown junkie,” he told those gathered in Devonport.

“I then found Headspace. If it was not for them I would not be here today. No happy person takes drugs but that is not something society accepts.

“Headspace let me be me. The young people of Tasmania are in good hands with this service.”