A noble crusade to help young people

ONE Dubbo resident is on a crusade to improve the mental health of young people in the city.

Catherine Fidock is a school counsellor for Dubbo and district schools and said she saw a desperate need to help youth lead fulfilling lives.

"In my opinion depression, anxiety and self-harm are increasing over the years and just being an active neighbour in the community you can see there's a problem," she said.

People were embarrassed to open up about their mental health problems and a "cop it on the chin" stigma was strongly attached.

"Sometimes there's a sense of guilt from the parents - what have I done to my children?" she said.

Ms Fidock said she was concerned with the deteriorating mental health of the youth of Dubbo.

She heard about the Youth Insearch Program and thought it sounded like a great way to help troubled youth of the area.

The program's aim was to connect young people, help them to face their challenges, and to become the best people they can be.

"It just made sense to take them on the camp," she said.

"I've been with the children since they came in at school and grown up so I know their needs."

For the first camp she attended, four young people were transported to the camp in her own station wagon.

The second camp required a hired Tarago to take the extra campers.

Not long after she had to obtain her bus licence to take the children at first on a 12-seat bus then a 25-seat bus to the camp.

The positive outcome of the story was that of the first four people taken on that initial camp, three had applied to be young leaders.

"The kids who've been through the program, sorted their baggage, become leaders and run the activities," she said.

One person was a drug dealer, she said, and his friend had died.

"Now he's changed and speaks to the kids about making the right choices,"?she said.

"There are those who were molested and speak about how they coped and fought it. It's really powerful."

Ms Fidock said her role as a volunteer for the Youth Insearch was to help young people find out about the program and then to apply for funds to cover the cost of the camp-approximately $2000 to $2500 per camp.

She was also responsible for organising travel and recruiting additional volunteers to attend the camp.

The mental wellbeing of Dubbo youth was a priority on her mind and she went to Melbourne for a intensive week to learn Youth Mental Health First Aid Course.

"It teaches adults how to help young people and to look out for the symptoms and treat it," she said.

Nothing was going to stop Ms Fidock who set her self the challenge to improve the mental health of young people in the city learning a new skill.

She taught herself a well-researched parenting skills program the 123 Magic and emotional coaching.

"There's no more arguing or nagging with parents and children," she said.

"If the child does something wrong the parent says, 'That's one,' when they do something else they say, 'that's two' and the third time they say, 'that's three' and send them to their room for time out.

What happens after is the child learns to stop this behaviour at number one."

For her efforts in raising the mental health of youth as a priority in the community and tirelessly working to improve their lives she was recently awarded the Tony McGrane Public Service Award.

"Catherine firmly believes in thinking outside the square, and has seen firsthand the results that can be achieved through these programmes," the citation said.

"By helping young people heal, and helping parents and teachers be aware of the mental health needs of our youth, Catherine is making a real difference to the quality of life and mental health for the young people in the Dubbo Community."

Ms Fidock encouraged Dubbo residents to lend a helping hand to anyone who was in need.

"A lot of people just need someone who will listen to them," she said.

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