Teen’s mental health ‘deteriorates rapidly’ as border battle puts life ‘in limbo’

A 19-year-old man is struggling to cope with the relentless uncertainty caused by Queensland's harsh border stance, which has left him with no income or belongings.

Kurtis Somerfield received a job offer with his current employer to transfer to Brisbane in mid-August but has been unable to successfully secure a border pass despite being told it would be approved “in due course”.

The Albury teenager was due to start his new career as a retail supervisor on September 12 but has instead been sleeping on the floor of his mother’s house for two months while everything he owns is in storage, waiting to be transported to Queensland.

A photo of Kurtis Somerfield, 19, who has opened up about the harrowing mental anguish QLD’s harsh border stance has caused him while trying to relocate to Brisbane. Source: Supplied
Kurtis Somerfield, 19, has opened up about the harrowing mental anguish QLD’s harsh border stance has caused him while trying to relocate to Brisbane. Source: Supplied

He told Yahoo News the stress of having no income and possibly losing his new career opportunity has taken a huge toll on his mental health.

“I have become depressed, I am not sleeping and my anxiety is taking over my life due to the uncertainty about my future.

“I have no personal belongings, my life is in limbo.”

Kurtis is fully-vaccinated and has regular Covid-19 tests in the hope he is granted entry into Queensland.

Since mid-August, he has made seven border applications and spent countless hours on the phone to Queensland Police and Queensland Health seeking updates, advice and clarifications – all to no avail.

(left) a photo of his bed on the floor at his mother's house in Albury (right) all his belongings in storage. Source: Supplied
The Albury teenager has been sleeping on the floor of his mother’s house while everything he owns is in storage. Source: Supplied.

It’s been 30 days since his last updated application was submitted and almost three months since his life was thrown into turmoil.

“In response to this whole issue every day my mental health deteriorates rapidly every day and with every setback due to all the uncertainty.”

Demand for mental health support surges

  • Lifeline is experiencing a 25 per cent increase in calls during the latest Delta outbreak and lockdown.

  • The service is on track to take more than 1.2 million calls by the end of the year – a new record.

  • Two years ago, Lifeline averaged around 2,500 calls a day.

  • Since the onset of the pandemic, that’s increased by 40 per cent to more than 3,500 daily calls.

Labor calls for action

NSW Labor has urged the government to pull together a team of mental health experts, researchers, clinicians, and carers to look at the best ways of dealing with the mental health impacts of the pandemic.

“There’s no doubt that the past 16 weeks in lockdown will have had a severe impact on people’s mental health,” Shadow Minister for Mental Health Ryan Park said.

Labor’s Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park speaks to the media during a press conference outside Parliament House. Source: NSW Labor
Labor’s Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park said the government should have a greater focus on mental health following the 16 week lockdown. Source: NSW Labor

“But we cannot be dismissive of the continued mental health effects as the state begins to reopen.

“For so many, reopening will represent a drastic change in routine and lifestyle, and the expected increase in cases will be a significant source of anxiety.”

If you or someone you know needs support during this difficult time, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.

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