Strength in the herd; batyr raises help seeking rates

Emily Herbert

In the wild, elephants can hear each other’s calls from nearly eight kilometres away. This communication helps to keep the herd together and makes sure each elephant’s call is easily heard.

At batyr, we like to think of ourselves as a herd, and we know that asking for help is the first step towards strengthening mental health. There are plenty of reasons why someone having a hard time might not reach out for support. A key reason is the stigma surrounding mental health issues – the fear that they will be seen or treated differently, or that others may not understand. Stigmas often stand in the way of people seeking help, but they’re not the only barrier. Not knowing what services are available, or where to turn, can often prevent people getting the assistance they need. This is especially true for young people living in regional and remote areas, where support services may not be as readily available or easy to access. Asking for help is hard – but batyr is raising help-seeking rates with every program it delivers.

The national help-seeking rate of young people affected by mental health is only around 25 per cent. After surveying nearly 10,000 students in 2016 who’ve watched a batyr program, 73 per cent of these young people would feel comfortable asking for help if they felt they needed it – having been armed with the knowledge of where to go locally and online for assistance.

How do we open up channels for young people to put up their hand and ask for help? By opening the doors through conversation and storytelling. batyr’s programs are run for young people by young people, and this effectiveness is revealed in the data. Eighty-three per cent of young people surveyed said they felt very engaged during a batyr program – boosting their receptivity to positive and hopeful messages, and stripping away the stigma surrounding mental health.

A 2015 pilot study of batyr’s effectiveness found that after the programs, there was a significant spike in young people signalling their intention to ask for help, in all the ways that batyr advocates during the sessions. At the top of the list are online resources, such as ReachOut.com and headspace, then Lifeline/Kids Helpline, a health professional such as a GP, the school counsellor or university support services. These results aren’t only for the day of the program. It was found that three months after the program, the students’ help-seeking intentions were still as elevated.

We’re seeing the long-lasting effect of batyr’s call that ripples throughout the herd – that it’s ok to speak up and take the first step to becoming your healthiest you.

 

Better Health Better Performance

Dr. Tim Sharp 
batyr Chief Happiness Officer

We all know that regular exercise is good for our physical health. Decades of research has consistently found that those who engage in moderate to intense activity, at least three to five times each week, are significantly more likely to enjoy good health. More specifically, regular exercise helps with weight control, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and can even help prevent certain types of cancer.

What many don’t know is that regular exercise also has many other ‘non-physical’ benefits. To list a few, physical activity improves sleep, energy levels and mood, and has increasingly been found to be one of the most powerful ways to combat stress and depression, as well as promote positive emotions, such as happiness.

In 2007, for example, Israeli researchers found that even just one hour of aerobic exercise per week improved executive, cognitive functioning. Academics from Macquarie University’s Department of Psychology also found regular exercise significantly improved self-regulatory behaviours. Earlier this year, a group of researchers from Germany’s Institute of Sports and Sports Science discovered regular aerobic exercise increased the capacity of participants’ ability to manage real-life stressors.

Other studies have found that regular exercise improves body image and can be an important adjunct to other effective interventions for depression; and if that weren’t enough, it contributes to people living longer.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011 Census revealed that around six out of 10 Australian adults did not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) exercise guidelines have also been brought into question by new research from the University of Queensland, which found that we need five times the recommended activity for a significant reduction of risk to lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Although exercise has numerous benefits, few people are doing enough of it to enjoy the positive consequences. Why is this?

One of the more common reasons is that people focus on the physical gains and set their goals high, expecting far too much too quickly.

The solution lies in focusing more on how exercise makes us feel, including how it helps us perform, and putting more emphasis on the non-physical benefits that flow from regular exercise.

Do you want to live your best possible life? Then exercise will provide you with the energy and ability you need to do what you want to do and to perform how you’d love to perform.

So rather than aiming for abs and biceps, aim for more happiness and zest. Rather than focusing on how much you weigh, instead enjoy gains in how more productive you are and how good you feel. Track your mood and your sleep, and even your performance at work and, there’s no doubt, the gains you realise will spur you on to a bigger and better life.

 

NSW Waratahs and batyr feature on FOX Sports

This story aired on FOX Sports 1 ‘Rugby Restart’ on Friday 17th March 2017 and before the Waratahs V’s Brumbies match on 18th March.

The story features NSW Waratahs players Paddy Ryan and Irae Simone talking about mental health, as well as batyr CEO Sam Refshauge on the power of community involvement in changing the way young people view mental health.

NSW Waratahs and batyr feature on FOX Sports

This story aired on FOX Sports 1 ‘Rugby Restart’ on Friday 17th March 2017 and before the Waratahs V’s Brumbies match on 18th March.

The story features NSW Waratahs players Paddy Ryan and Irae Simone talking about mental health, as well as batyr CEO Sam Refshauge on the power of community involvement in changing the way young people view mental health.

 

batyr founder Sebastian Robertson with Edu. & Gov. Relations Manager Sam Di Sano pitching at The Funding Network

The Funding Network kicked off their first Sydney event for the year, partnering with Macquarie Group to showcase three social changemakers: batyr, @bairopiteclinic BackTrack Youth Works. Together they raised over $414,000 and batyr took home $138,000

“It’s hard to truly express how much moments like last Wednesday night mean to an organisation like batyr. The energy, the positivity, the willingness to listen and learn, the openness not only of wallets ($138,000… what a number!) but also the sharing of personal stories, of opening up connections and doors. This is helping to reduce the stigma surrounding mental ill health, so we are grateful for your support.” Sebastian Robertson