batyr and Cancer Council NSW announced as official charity partners of the NSW Waratahs

News article by NSW Waratahs Media unit

The NSW Waratahs are pleased to announce batyr and Cancer Council NSW as their two new official charity partners for 2017.

batyr is a ‘for purpose’ organisation that focuses on preventative education in the area of youth mental health through peer-to-peer programs that engage, educate and empower young people to have positive conversations about mental health and to reach out for support when they need it.

Cancer Council NSW is the only organisation in NSW that works across every area of every cancer; conducting and funding world-class research, initiating cancer prevention programs, supporting people through cancer and into survivorship and advocating to ensure governments take action on cancer.

NSW Waratahs CEO, Andrew Hore said the organisation was keen to support charities that together would inspire people across the state to lead active, healthy and positive values and lifestyles through the game of rugby.

“One of our key focuses as part of our current restructure, bringing the NSW Waratahs together with NSW Rugby, is the development of talent through programs and pathways across the state, which is just as much about their on-field development as it is about their off-field welfare” Hore said.

“Like us, both batyr and Cancer Council NSW are active in engaging with communities and delivering programs across NSW to help empower develop people in areas of health and wellbeing.

“With over 130,000 participants, plus volunteers and families involved in the game in this state, their initiatives can go a long way in helping young people, especially in Clubs and schools, realise and achieve their dreams of representing their state or country in rugby, whether that be as a player or official.”

batyr CEO, Sam Refshauge said the organisation is thrilled to have been chosen as the official charity partner of the NSW Waratahs alongside Cancer Council NSW.

“When in any given year 1 in 4 young people will experience a mental health issue, yet only 23% will reach out for support, education and awareness play a vital role in changing these statistics,” Refshauge said.

“The partnership with the Waratahs will allow us to broaden our reach and impact, changing the way young people view mental health so that they realise that it’s OK not to be OK, that they’re not alone and that help is out there.

“In a sport where the “don’t be soft” and “toughen up” mentality too often masks what is really going on, it will be so powerful to have the support of the NSW Waratahs and the NSW Rugby community in tackling the stigma surrounding mental health, so that asking for help is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Jeff Mitchell, CEO at Cancer Council NSW, reflected the same sentiments saying the organisation was honoured to have been chosen as one of the charity partners of the State’s leading rugby body.

“Every year in NSW alone, more than 46,000 new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed. Cancer Council NSW is a community-focused organisation, working to reach anyone affected by cancer in communities across the state. We are extremely pleased to be supported by a sporting body which also has a strong community footprint across NSW,” Mitchell said.

“One of Cancer Council NSW’s priorities is to reduce cancer in the NSW community by encouraging people to lead healthy lifestyles.  NSW Waratahs shares our vision of encouraging an active, healthy lifestyle, both through their professional teams and their junior sports development programs.

“We look forward to working with the NSW Waratahs to inform and empower community players, supporters and sponsors to reduce their cancer risk.”

The NSW Waratahs official charity partner selection involved an application process open to charities across Australia, with a set of criteria that included their link to NSW, focus on health and well-being and initiatives that benefit schools and junior rugby clubs across NSW.

batyr and Cancer Council NSW will both activate at NSW Waratahs and NSW Rugby matches, events, activities and other opportunities throughout the year as a means of raising funds and awareness for the two very important causes.

batyr End Of Year report 2016

To think that we started the year with a team of 20 in NSW & ACT and have ended the year with a team of 40 across 5 states & territories with a new university partner (in Adelaide) and 2 new school chapters. Oh and we’ve also got ourselves a Chief Happiness Officer…There’s definitely been some growth.

But with that growth we have ensured that the team and the organisation has not compromised on the quality of what we are delivering.

We have invested in the core elements of systems, processes & research to ensure that we are rigorous in the support of young people to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and increase help seeking rates.

And so it is with great pleasure that I present to you the 2016 End of Year Program Reports. I hope you enjoy the report and I look forward to sharing even more successes with you in 2017.

Sam Refshauge

Download the batyr EOY report here

Universities need to take a collaborative approach to preventative mental health education

David Lt, University Teams Manager

In response to the Huffington Post Article ‘Universities Need An Education In Youth Mental Health’

One in four young people (ages 15-24) will experience a mental health issue in any given twelve-month period. University students are a particularly at-risk demographic, with the rate being significantly higher than that of the general population (83.9% of a sample size of 6,500 18-34 year olds in a recent Australian survey). There is a concern around the ongoing effect of mental ill-health which may remain undiagnosed and unmanaged, and its effect on university attrition rates, graduate success, and the wellbeing of the future workforce.

As mental health advocacy becomes more mainstream in Australia (we have seen the traction of campaigns such as RUOK day and Mental Health week), there is no doubt that more awareness is being drawn to the issue of mental health and suicide as the leading cause of death in Australia for those under 44. However, of the data available it is so far unclear as to whether the increase in awareness around these issues and the prevalence of mental ill health is causing a shift in help seeking behaviour, or whether the service provision models currently in place are having a significant impact on the rate of acute instances of mental health incidents among young people. Indeed, the most recent Mission Australia youth survey (the largest of its kind nationally) shows that young people are more concerned than ever before around issues of wellbeing, with mental health rating as the third most concerning issue in the 2016 survey.

To understand possible solutions to the problem of youth mental health, particularly in the changing landscape of education in Australia, it is vital to recognise that a multi faceted and volume approach is needed to create significant change. In a report released in 2016 from the Churchill Foundation, a number of recommendations were identified around how to create a shift in the societal perception of mental illness and mental ill health within the tertiary system. Among these were a recognition of the need for Universities to take a ‘top down’ approach in unilaterally encouraging help seeking behaviour and the promotion of a ‘recovery approach’, as opposed to perpetuating stigma through potentially culturally insensitive language and confusing help seeking path ways.

Another recommendation of the report was to highlight the need for direct involvement from the students themselves. Students at University are in some of the most formative years of their lives, where a sense of purpose and an attachment to significant causes are pivotal to their learning experience. Providing a vehicle for students to be supported and nurtured within that space would mean a focussed grass-roots movement, rallying around the improvement of societal perceptions and an increase in empathy toward students who suffer in isolation.

One such approach combining these two facets is the batyr program. batyr was established in 2011 with a view to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and increase help-seeking behaviour in young people. Since then batyr has reached over 54, 000 young people at high schools and universities across Australia through 532 peer-to-peer lived-experience speaker programs (‘[email protected] & [email protected]’), trained 227 young people to share their stories safely and effectively, and scaled into 5 states (including three full-partnership Universities).

The basis of the program is research surrounding the power of peer-to-peer education in reducing mental health stigma. The batyr University program sees a large cross section of students educated, empowered, resourced and engaged through various strategic touch points within the University community. Elements include education programs embedded within the University curriculum, a student Executive Leadership Group driving initiatives on the ground, and workshops which train students with a lived experience to share their stories safely within the community.

“Having been through my own experience with mental health, I want to help change the way young people talk and feel about the topic.” said Alex, a final year product design student attending a batyr partner University.

‘I’d like to see mental health become a topic that people aren’t afraid to bring up in conversations, or to reach out for help. I know how powerful stories are in changing perspectives for young people. I want to be a part of that process to break down the stigma that prevents so many from seeking help.’

Ann, a student engagement officer has similar sentiments.

‘I grew up with the message that it wasn’t good to ‘share’ disabilities.’ She said, after attending a batyr educational program at her University.

‘Its always been difficult to ‘get out’ and ‘be open’ about being honest about my situation. I think this strategy is brilliant.’

The first batyr University collaboration was piloted in 2014 at UTS and has since expanded to ANU, and UniSA. New partnerships with the University of New England and the Sydney University Faculty of Health have also been formalised and are beginning in 2017.

A recognition for the need to collaborate across the University space, health provision and government is critical to ensuring that students get both the education needed to provide their best chance at success, and the help they need when they need it’.

We must focus also on the preventative education piece when it comes to solving this puzzle. We will then see more balance across the way our services are distributed, and ultimately, more students reaching out for support when they need it, due to a community that is educated and embraces vulnerability rather than shying away.

 

Universities need to take a collaborative approach to preventative mental heath education

David Lt, University Teams Manager

In response to the Huffington Post Article ‘Universities Need An Education In Youth Mental Health’

One in four young people (ages 15-24) will experience a mental health issue in any given twelve-month period. University students are a particularly at-risk demographic, with the rate being significantly higher than that of the general population (83.9% of a sample size of 6,500 18-34 year olds in a recent Australian survey). There is a concern around the ongoing effect of mental ill-health which may remain undiagnosed and unmanaged, and its effect on university attrition rates, graduate success, and the wellbeing of the future workforce.

As mental health advocacy becomes more mainstream in Australia (we have seen the traction of campaigns such as RUOK day and Mental Health week), there is no doubt that more awareness is being drawn to the issue of mental health and suicide as the leading cause of death in Australia for those under 44. However, of the data available it is so far unclear as to whether the increase in awareness around these issues and the prevalence of mental ill health is causing a shift in help seeking behaviour, or whether the service provision models currently in place are having a significant impact on the rate of acute instances of mental health incidents among young people. Indeed, the most recent Mission Australia youth survey (the largest of its kind nationally) shows that young people are more concerned than ever before around issues of wellbeing, with mental health rating as the third most concerning issue in the 2016 survey.

To understand possible solutions to the problem of youth mental health, particularly in the changing landscape of education in Australia, it is vital to recognise that a multi faceted and volume approach is needed to create significant change. In a report released in 2016 from the Churchill Foundation, a number of recommendations were identified around how to create a shift in the societal perception of mental illness and mental ill health within the tertiary system. Among these were a recognition of the need for Universities to take a ‘top down’ approach in unilaterally encouraging help seeking behaviour and the promotion of a ‘recovery approach’, as opposed to perpetuating stigma through potentially culturally insensitive language and confusing help seeking path ways.

Another recommendation of the report was to highlight the need for direct involvement from the students themselves. Students at University are in some of the most formative years of their lives, where a sense of purpose and an attachment to significant causes are pivotal to their learning experience. Providing a vehicle for students to be supported and nurtured within that space would mean a focussed grass-roots movement, rallying around the improvement of societal perceptions and an increase in empathy toward students who suffer in isolation.

One such approach combining these two facets is the batyr program. batyr was established in 2011 with a view to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and increase help-seeking behaviour in young people. Since then batyr has reached over 54, 000 young people at high schools and universities across Australia through 532 peer-to-peer lived-experience speaker programs (‘[email protected] & [email protected]’), trained 227 young people to share their stories safely and effectively, and scaled into 5 states (including three full-partnership Universities).

The basis of the program is research surrounding the power of peer-to-peer education in reducing mental health stigma. The batyr University program sees a large cross section of students educated, empowered, resourced and engaged through various strategic touch points within the University community. Elements include education programs embedded within the University curriculum, a student Executive Leadership Group driving initiatives on the ground, and workshops which train students with a lived experience to share their stories safely within the community.

“Having been through my own experience with mental health, I want to help change the way young people talk and feel about the topic.” said Alex, a final year product design student attending a batyr partner University.

‘I’d like to see mental health become a topic that people aren’t afraid to bring up in conversations, or to reach out for help. I know how powerful stories are in changing perspectives for young people. I want to be a part of that process to break down the stigma that prevents so many from seeking help.’

Ann, a student engagement officer has similar sentiments.

‘I grew up with the message that it wasn’t good to ‘share’ disabilities.’ She said, after attending a batyr educational program at her University.

‘Its always been difficult to ‘get out’ and ‘be open’ about being honest about my situation. I think this strategy is brilliant.’

The first batyr University collaboration was piloted in 2014 at UTS and has since expanded to ANU, and UniSA. New partnerships with the University of New England and the Sydney University Faculty of Health have also been formalised and are beginning in 2017.

A recognition for the need to collaborate across the University space, health provision and government is critical to ensuring that students get both the education needed to provide their best chance at success, and the help they need when they need it’.

We must focus also on the preventative education piece when it comes to solving this puzzle. We will then see more balance across the way our services are distributed, and ultimately, more students reaching out for support when they need it, due to a community that is educated and embraces vulnerability rather than shying away.