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.