ARN launches the Goodness Project and partners with batyr

Posted by B&T magazine 

Australian Radio Network (ARN) has announced the launch of The Goodness Project and a new partnership with social purpose organisation UnLtd, which helps improve the lives of disadvantaged young people.

The Goodness Project is a new internal initiative as part of ARN’s corporate social responsibility program, and will see employees from across the company team up to use their expertise and creativity to help charities make a difference in the community.

The first major activity of The Goodness Project is a new partnership with UnLtd, which brings the Australian media, marketing and advertising industry together to tackle the issue of youth disadvantage.

ARN will be working across specific projects with charities batyr and Musicians Making a Difference (MMAD).

The first project kicked off this month with batyr, an organisation that focuses on delivering education and programs that educate, engage and empower young people to have positive conversations about mental health and seek out help when needed.

ARN chief executive Rob Atkinson and batyr CEO Sam Refshauge

ARN teams will work closely with batyr on its ‘Being Herd’ program, with creative collaborations and idea execution to help build awareness and provide a platform to raise funds in support of batyr’s goals to smash the stigma around mental ill health and increase help seeking rates.

Later this year, ARN will be teaming up on a project with MMAD, an organisation which helps disadvantaged young people by using the power of music, dance and mentoring to inspire them to make their lives remarkable.

As part of the launch, ARN also announced each staff member will receive a day to devote their time to a charitable cause they are passionate about.

ARN chief executive Rob Atkinson said: “I am proud to be announcing the launch of The Goodness Project as part of ARN’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and our company-wide passion for supporting organisations that deliver great outcomes for those in need.

“At ARN, we know our real strength lies in our collective knowledge, creativity and ability to work together to execute great ideas for the benefit of our audiences, clients and charity partners.

“The Goodness Project gives all our staff the opportunity to drive, collaborate and contribute to the hard work charities like batyr and MMAD deliver to those that need a helping hand. We are excited to be working with UnLtd and batyr at launch to help smash the stigma of mental health.

UnLtd CEO Paul Fisher said: “Partnering with organisations like ARN that are full of motivated and passionate people who want to make a difference and help support thousands of young people in need is what UnLtd is all about.

“We want to give everybody in the media, marketing and advertising industry the opportunity to do what they can to help improve the lives of disadvantaged young people, and I am looking forward to seeing the great work ARN’s The Goodness Project team will be able to do with batyr and MMAD.”

Response to the 2017-2018 NSW State Budget

Mental Health spending in NSW has received a $20m boost, recurrent over the next four years as part of a decade long whole of government reform announced in the 2017-2018 NSW State budget.

batyr welcomes the extra spending in community based mental health services as part of the government’s commitment to improving the lives of people in NSW living with mental ill-health.

batyr CEO Sam Refshauge says the $1.6 m funding of peer support workers through the Pathways in Community Living initiative is a welcome recognition of the importance of the work of those with a lived experience and encourages their continued involvement in community based mental health services.

While the NSW budget boost in mental health reform injects $5.4m into initiatives such as increasing the workforce, strengthening capacity and providing a solid strategic framework as part of its $20m community based investment, batyr also notes the absence of any funding to support early intervention and preventative education programs, particularly those aimed at youth.

“Investment in preventative forms of education, particularly aimed at school and university aged young people, as well as the training of young people with a lived experience to tell their story of support and recovery, both have been seen to have a very positive impact on the prevalence of mental ill-health among young people aged 15 – 24”, says Refshauge.

“batyr hopes to continue to grow its programs for young people across more schools and universities  across NSW  in the hope of empowering them to take control of their own health and wellbeing.”

Times to ‘suck it up’ and times to not

By Angus Forth.

Hi, I’m Angus, one of the Being Herd speakers for batyr. I love my sport and getting the opportunity to test my toughness against others on the sporting field.

Through my passion for sport, I’ve learnt one of the most idolised traits in men is their toughness, whether it’s mental or physical. For me, I idolise sportsmen like Steve Waugh and Roger Federer who get the job done in situations where they’re under immense physical or mental pressure. It makes sense then that many everyday men want to replicate this trait, especially as so many of our role models display this kind of resilience.

However, we only see these players on the pitch, oval or field and don’t have a chance to observe them in everyday life. What I’ve learnt from my experience is there’s a time for toughness and a time to recognise it may be tougher to admit you’re not okay and something needs to change.

My situation started when I was finishing my first year of university. I was feeling consistently down, along with experiencing nausea and headaches. After months of feeling sick, sleeping a ridiculous number of hours – even for a uni student – and feeling down, I reached a breaking point.

As a pretty rational student of economics and maths I weighed up my options:

Option one: Suck it up. Do nothing. Continue to feel crap.

Option two: Do something. Might still feel crap, but you might feel better.

Unsurprisingly, I concluded that option two was better. So, I went to the doctor and he prescribed me some medicine. This was not what I expected and I was hesitant to take it at first. I had a conversation with my doctor and he outlined two rather familiar options:

Option one: Suck it up. Do nothing. Continue to feel crap.

Option two: Do something. Might still feel crap, but you might feel better.

(It’s important to note that while medication was recommended for my situation, this won’t always be the solution for everybody.)

Unsurprisingly, again, I concluded that option two was better. The meds had an effect in about two weeks and I started feeling the difference. The haze of tiredness and sickness had been lifted. I’ve heard many perspectives on mental health and whether it exists or not. For me, there were only those two simple options when I felt down.

If you recognise something’s wrong, take option two and try to do something about it. This might mean seeing a doctor, a psychologist or even confiding in someone you know.

In my mind, there are still times where the ‘suck it up’ attitude applies, such as working hard at uni to get good marks or pushing yourself physically when exercising. However, if I’m dealing with prolonged periods of feeling sick, tired and generally unhappy, this is when I know sucking it up isn’t an option. Instead I try to change something. I don’t feel as though I’m a tough guy, however, I do feel that if I hadn’t sought help I would’ve been a stupid guy.

Not being tough is a small price to pay for feeling well and happy again.

The Power of Storytelling

By Samantha Willock

Stories are one of the most powerful forms of communication. They’re everywhere; you come across them scrolling through social media, when catching up with friends, they’re even woven into your daily newsfeed. And why? Because facts, figures, data and numbers just don’t stick. They don’t have the same impact.

A story creates context; it paints a picture to help the listener understand the exact scene. It is much easier to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and interpret a story when there are descriptions and emotions attached.

Storytelling is nothing new. It’s entrenched in our culture; ‘Yarning’ is a practice that dates back to our first Australians. In her book, Mary Terszack describes yarning as “a process of making meaning, communicating and passing on history and knowledge… a special way of relating and connecting… ”

No wonder storytelling is such a big part of our lives today. Stories have such great ability to connect us, not only when we are listening but also when we are sharing. Having said that, we don’t always want to share our stories. Some we hold onto for fear we may be judged, wrongly perceived or even discriminated against.

batyr, a for-purpose mental health organisation, is helping to break down these barriers to sharing with the Being Herd program. Being Herd is a two-day workshop that empowers young people, aged 18–30, with lived experience of mental ill-health to give a voice to their stories. The workshop helps build the confidence and skills to learn how to share in a safe and effective way.

Participants are encouraged to highlight the steps they took to reach out for support and discuss how they manage their wellbeing today. To date, batyr has trained more than 300 young people to safely and effectively share their story, letting young people know that it’s okay to not be okay, that they’re not alone and that help is out there.

Throughout the many Being Herd workshops, participant feedback has been quite consistent. There have been very similar themes and messages from young people feeling relieved, more hopeful and, overall, less alone and more connected. Some feedback from past workshops across the country reinforces this message in the quotes below.

“I never imagined being able to share such intimate stories with such confidence. The safe space, relatability and lack of judgement made it so easy to share.”

– Armidale Being Herd, March 2017

“I learnt that although everybody’s stories are so different – they were all so relatable and I saw myself in every one!”

– Sydney Being Herd, June 2016

There is strong evidence backing the power of storytelling and its ability to connect people. So, if you think your story is too much to share, or maybe not enough, just remember that everyone’s experience is different, and experiencing mental ill-health does not define an individual, rather, it is just one part of their life journey. I am going to leave you with a comment from Andrea Gibbs’ TEDx Talk The power of storytelling:

“We can’t always choose the stories we have in our lives, but if we take a risk and show that we are human and vulnerable, then that is where the best stories lie.”