FUN and laughter is the aim of a local program called On Fire, run for children who care for family members with mental health issues.
Once a month about 20 Newcastle young people aged eight to 17 meet through the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW-sponsored initiative.
On Fire kicked off in Newcastle in 2010, after flourishing in five other NSW towns since 2001.
The youth carers participate in activities such as bowling, beach days and camping to improve their well-being.
These excursions give the youth carers a break from their families, as well as a chance to bond with others in similar circumstances.
On Fire Hunter area co-ordinator Michelle Burroughs said the program helped the youth break down social barriers and increase social connectivity.
She said they went away feeling more socially connected.
Ms Burroughs said part of the program also examined some of the myths surrounding mental health.
The On Fire program also provides families with mental health information and referrals if needed.
■ On Fire is recruiting community members who are interesting in volunteering with the program. For more information about On Fire, email michelle. firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 4968 9307.