You're a young person, in your 20s or so, and you've noticed that quite a few of your similarly-aged peers & friends are in desperate need of care due to major mental and emotional health challenges - which are taking a toll on everything else. However, support services for this group are lacking. What could you learn or train in to be able to be a better source of support and care for your peer community?
As my last few AskMefi questions have demonstrated, I've lost a couple of close people to suicide this year. They've both been in their 20s, dealing with severe mental health issues for a long time (PTSD and bipolar disorder). They're not the only ones I know who are facing this, and I'd rather not lose more people to their own hands.
I've noticed that support for our age group is shockingly lacking, at least here in Australia (though I don't think my US-based cousin would have necessarily been better off). Some issues I've seen:
* There's training and services for childcare (up to about 15-16) and elderly care, but nothing in between
* Resources for those with disabilities tend to focus on the physical; there is some attention to psychiatric issues, but they need to be "Severe" - as it is my friends are having trouble finding adequate people to diagnose them (there has been some controversy about the local mental health system)
* They have just enough economic privilege to not be homeless and to be able to afford basic needs as well as the occasional indulgence - most youth programs tend to be geared towards homeless & severely disadvantaged people. However, many support systems available cost more money & time then any of us can afford. (A retreat I queried cost $30,000 for 3 weeks - that could pay expenses & then some for a year
* One service that does tend to be regularly accessed is checking into a mental hospital for a while, where you're under observation and there's a counselor and so on. It seems to be helpful, but they also often report being quite bored, mostly because their phones and Internet - their main means of access to the outside world - are taken away and they're not really left with much to do. For some of us, being actively involved in something is a HUGE help, and personally it's been the lack of Internet thing that's stopped me from checking in myself when I could have used it - the boredom would destroy me further (I'd be stuck in my head).
* My peer group tends to not be very trusting of Government and bureaucracy anyway, and for good reason - Centrelink (welfare) can often be painful and penalise you for trying to make things better for yourself, paperwork can be more extensive than possible, and some have been on the wrong end of the law just for protesting or not looking right
One of my good friends has a number of chronic physical conditions and at one point desperately needed food to be able to survive the next day. My friend and I were able to organise a supply for a few days, and we tried looking for places that will do this regularly for her. No one
could help - they either needed her to provide more paperwork than she was able (she could barely even get out of bed), or had a months-long waiting list, or needed money, or just don't do emergency food supply. This really shocked both of us; we can't afford to care for her 24/7, even the menial Carer's Pay the Gov gives you won't be enough to cover either of our needs (not that I'd qualify anyway, being on a bridging visa), and yet it's obvious that if there isn't enough regular help she's likely the next to go.
I'm frustrated. I'm pissed. I'm worried. I want to learn how to provide better support, better care, organise better care. Even just knowing what to do in times of crisis would make a huge difference. I'd like to be the sort of person you'd find at Youngcare
(residential care for young people who'd otherwise find themselves in aged care homes),
I do have basic First Aid training, though it could stand to have a refresher, and some experience with women's rights/sexual assault issues, but what else is there? I've looked at TAFE (think Australian community college) and they've got some courses in community care and youth work, though more in a larger societal sense. A friend suggests a combo of youth work and nursing, which could be useful, though I wonder if there's enough to cover mental health and emotional health. I'm also greatly open to more unorthodox community-based issues; I know there's been quite a bit of work in activist communities around healing justice, which I think would intersect with my peers very well. Even something like "learn how to manage a crisis line" would help.
Please help me be a better help to my community. I don't want to see another life fall down the cracks.