‘This may be their first experience dealing with loss’

A MENTAL health team will visit Minnie Water this morning to provide support for a community grieving the loss of local teenager Mani Hart-Deville.

On Saturday, residents were devastated to learn the 15-year-old had succumbed to a fatal shark attack at Wilson's Headland, north of Wooli.

Consisting of Grafton Headspace manager Jason Grimes, along with a community engagement officer and Sam Osbourne from the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, the goal of the visit is to assess the best way to support the community during this difficult time.

"Grief is a tricky situation in which each person deals with grief differently and may be respectively in different stages," Mr Grimes said. 

"The emphasis from us and our fellow services is around how young people, their families and the greater community can access support when they are ready."




Today will include a group session at Minnie Water Hall at 10.30am for young people, followed by one-on-one chats available throughout the remainder of the day.

"Conversations are important however, its more about availability for conversations," he said. 

"For many, this may be their first experience in dealing with loss/trauma of this sort. As adults have had more experience with confronting life circumstances, young people may not fully understand why they are feeling what they are feeling."

"The take away should be in communicating to our young people that grief manifests in many forms all of which are 'normal' and reassuring those experiencing grief that this process is temporary and necessary to come to terms with what has occurred."

Mr Grimes said it was important for young people to experience these feelings of grief while being supported through the process.

"Changes in behaviour, loss of enjoyment in activities, withdrawn…. initially these will be observed as part of the grieving process. However, if it is ongoing or you are concerned I would encourage you to contact a mental health specialist," he said.

"As a parent, carer, friend or community member the task at hand is to assist our young people through that process while observing for any attitudes, behaviours or statements which are ongoing or cause you to believe that young person may be contemplating harming themselves at which point professional intervention is strongly advised."

Young people and their families can access mental health support online by visiting eHeadspace, which provides free online and telephone support and counselling to young people 12 - 25 and their families and friends. You can access this service HERE.