Quarter Two Update 2019

It’s been another big quarter for the whole batyr community. From four thousand people waking at the crack of dawn to show their support for each other and shine a light on suicide prevention,  speakers sharing their stories on National TV and online to help others, to a bunch of amazing high school students raising money and running a marathon in memory of their teacher. All of this, as well as reaching 11 000 people through the batyr programs and a visit from the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison!

It has reminded me of the size of the batyr community and the amount of people that are willing to step up and show their mates that whatever they are going through, they want to be there to support them. There are now thousands more people better equipped to reach out for support when they need it, thanks to the impact that everyone in the batyr herd has on the community. It has been great to see the Federal Government prioritise youth mental health and provide funding to batyr to help reach more people online. But it doesn’t stop there. As we continue to roll out hundreds of programs each year, your support of these programs and the batyr message is crucial and valued.

Enjoy reading through the incredible work that has been happening, I can’t wait to continue it alongside you all into the back half of the year!

Nic Brown,
General Manager

119 programs delivered to high schools, universities and workplaces.

Across the quarter our programs team delivered:

  • 96 high school programs, reaching over 10,000 students across NSW, VIC, SA, QLD and ACT.
  • 3 Teacher Professional Development programs, providing tips and resources for teachers to support the mental health of their students.
  • 17 uni programs, reaching 883 students at our University Partners: ANU, UTS, USyd Faculty of Health and UniSA.
  • 3 [email protected] programs to NGEN Sydney, Macquarie Group Foundation and Yarra Trams

Behind the numbers are some incredible stories from the young people we engage with. Here is a handful of feedback from our programs:

“Hearing from batyr last year actually encouraged me to get help after the session. I’m glad you came back this year to remind me to keep going, that it’s not linear, and that I need to be honest with myself as well as checking in with others.”
St Ursula’s College Kingsgrove, Year 10 Student.

“As a silent sufferer, it gave me the courage to speak to someone other than family”, UniSA Student

““It makes me realise it’s real. Even though I haven’t seen it in people close to me it makes me more aware to look out. I am becoming more aware as I get older and experience more.” Clayfield College, Year 12 Student”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Health Greg Hunt back batyr.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a guest appearance at a [email protected] program in Burwood in Sydney’s Inner West and reiterated the $2.8 million over three years to fund our new digital storytelling platform.

Prime Minister Morrison was joined by Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Liberal candidate for Reid Fiona Martin.

“We had the great privilege of seeing batyr, a young group, led by young people, talking about the experiences and challenges that they had faced, give a sense of hope, inspiration and support to these young women, that their lives could be something special, but they had to recognise that there is hope, there is the ability to reach out and we could see the transformation on that day.”  – Minister Hunt addressing Parliament, reflecting on his experience.

Thank you to Burwood Girls High for being so accommodating and working with us to ensure that the focus remained on the program amid the media storm.

Below is one note we received on social media after the program.

“Hello, I attend Burwood Girls High School and I’d like to say a massive thank you for visiting our school and talking about mental health today….what I saw and heard from Liv, it really hit a part of my heart as I have been affected by mental illness. I’ve started my journey of recovery, and although it’s going to be long and bumpy, groups like batyr make it easier.”

Grant enables us to work directly with International Students.

Thanks to Study Melbourne – The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts, and Projects, batyr was successful in winning a $75,000 International Student Welfare Program grant to support the mental health and wellbeing of International Students living in Victoria. 

The grant will provide funding for a pilot program, including the development and implementation of a specific Being Herd workshop which will give 10 International students the opportunity and training to safely share their experiences with mental ill-health. 

The funding will also enable batyr to run five international student programs aimed at reducing stigma and increasing help-seeking behaviour.  The International Student Welfare Program is supported by the Victorian Government.

We welcomed 64 young mental health advocates to our herd and saw great success with our new Being Herd Pathways Program. 

We ran a total of 8 Being Herd workshops in the following locations: Sydney, Armidale, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane.

These workshops are aimed at empowering young people to share their experiences in a safe and confident way, knowing that their story matters and deserves to be “herd.”

“Being Herd changed my perception entirely of my experiences with mental health and anxiety. I feel so much more comfortable sharing my story now, and the workshop allowed us to all open up in a safe, supportive and caring environment.” wrote one participant.

We ran 4 Being Herd Pathways workshop on the Central Coast and in Western Sydney, supporting 38 young people 16-24 who are not currently in education, employment or training. The Pathways workshop is a new program funded by the NSW State Government which aims to support unemployed youth in finding meaningful and sustainable work.

Being Herd Pathways boosted my confidence so much! Before I went I wasn’t sure how I’d go working again but it helped me realise that it was ok for me to have bad days and it was ok for me to feel nervous. After the course I was able to tell my (at the time) future employer that I struggle with mental health.”  Central Coast Participant

Bella and Darcy shared their experiences on SBS Insight’s ‘Preventing Teen Suicide’ episode.

“What doesn’t help, is when people say the classic, ‘It’s all in your head’. Of course it’s all in my head, that’s the problem.

What really helps is when a mate asks, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and, after the small talk, they ask, ‘Hey, how are you really going?’ – that really helps me. When people persist with the ‘How are you?’” –  batyr speaker Darcy.

We are extremely proud of our speakers Darcy and Bella who shared their story on SBS Insight as part of their episode on preventing youth suicide. If you missed the episode, you can watch it here. 

With suicide being the leading cause of death in 15 – 24 year olds, Insight focused on talking to teens who’ve attempted to take their own lives, finding out what they needed at the time, what went unnoticed, and what we can all do to help.

Thanks to SBS Insight for providing a forum for this discussion and, in doing so, giving our young people permission and the opportunity to speak up and make their voices heard. We’re so inspired by the hope and resilience of both Darcy and Bella, and all the young people who took part in the program.

Bella also shared her story with mamamia – you can read it here.

If you need support, please reach out to someone you trust 💙🐘 There’s always someone to speak to at Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800.

‘Be kind to your mind’ collaboration with SANE Australia.

In partnership with Sane Australia and supported by Future Generation Australia, we shared stories from young people living with a complex mental illness specifically looking at help: how you ask for it, what it means to get it, how it can go right and wrong, and how you can help yourself.

Named the ‘Be Kind To Your Mind’ series, the content was produced in collaboration with the 18 young Ambassadors. You can check out the content here

This is the third year of the project for SANE Australia, and batyr’s second year being involved.

The project aim is to increase the access of young adults to evidence-based services, resources and referral pathways that will encourage help-seeking behaviours, address barriers to care, promote early treatment and reduce stigma.

Communities rallying together to create change.

The Annual Darkness into Light took place in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne, with over 4,000 people braving the cold May morning and joining in the global movement of walking to shine a light on suicide prevention and raise much needed funds. Over $200,000 was raised, an incredible effort from a passionate community. Thank you to everyone involved.

In Orange, NSW a sold out Orange Black Tie Scrum event took place with 350 locals coming together to raise funds to allow us to continue to run workshops and program in the local area.   Tom Goolagong, a Wiradjuri man from the Orange Emus Rugby Union Football Club and an Orange Black Tie Scrum committee member, shared his story about a tough time in the hopes to smash the stigma surrounding mental health in his community.

Students and teachers from Moriah College banded together and ‘ran for the herd’  in honour of their former colleague and teacher. The passionate team raised an incredible $30,000 for batyr. Their efforts mean 1,700 more young people will see a [email protected] program. ​

18 media and marketing professionals took the Sydney Opera House by storm, performing stand-up comedy in front of more than 300 industry peers and raising funds for batyr. Aptly named Pitch2Punchline the event raised $10k.

We want to extend an enormous thank you to everyone involved in organising and coordinating these events.  Your support for batyr is amazing and we’re so grateful to have you as part of our herd.  The vital funds raised enable us to continue to run our programs in high schools across the country and keep our Being Herd workshops free for young people to attend.

Coca-Cola Foundation grant to fund programs in Parkes, the Central West and New England regions.

The CCAF is dedicated to supporting programs that will build capability and opportunity for young Australians, inspiring them to grow their happiness and feel empowered for a more positive life. 

In 2019, the CCAF selected batyr as Employee Connected Grant Partners, together donating $25k to help us make a difference where it counts. The funds will allow us to run our [email protected] programs in Parkes, the Central West and New England. 

The Employee Connected Grants support local causes and charities connected to Coca-Cola Australia employees.

What’s coming up?

  • In Sydney on the weekend over 200 people took charge of their mental health and wellbeing and ‘Ran for the herd’ in the City 2 Surf.  Brisbane’s ‘Bridge to Brisbane’ is coming up in two weeks if you want to get involved with the team. Or if you have a fun run in your local area and would like to support batyr send us an email at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you.
  • This weekend over 60 uni students from Australian National University will run from Civic in Canberra to Bondi Beach in Sydney within 24 hours, to raise funds and awareness for batyr. Named Civic2Surf this is an incredible event driven by young students passionate about mental health and wellbeing. The team are aiming to raise $20k, you can get behind their efforts here.

  • batyr’s annual Blue Tie Ball is coming up in September and is officially SOLD OUT!  The theme this year is Myths, Stories and Legends! We want to dispel the many MYTHS surrounding mental health, hear STORIES from inspiring speakers and celebrate batyr’s work ​with all of you LEGENDS who support us. Speaking of legends can we extend a huge thank you to our Platinum sponsor; ClayMatter, our Gold Sponsors; GPT, Macquarie and The Happiness Institute, and Silver Sponsors; blis and Dentons. If you know any businesses who would be interested in supporting batyr and gifting prizes for our raffle and silent auction please email [email protected] We are so grateful to businesses who have already donated prizes, thank you for our support.

Why I Run: Avanthi

It’s only 2 weeks until City2Surf 2019 and we’re just a (little bit) excited, so we wanted to ask some inspirational young people, “Who do you run?”

The amazing Avanthi is our Being Herd Pathways Coordinator and is running for the herd this year!

When you’re not running, what are you up to?

You can find me at the barre studio or at SaltoFit class (trampoline HIIT class). 

When not keeping fit, I’m out at dinner with mates, at a local art gallery or watching the latest movie at the cinemas.

I also love spending time with family or hanging out with my dog, Ziggy. He gives the best cuddles.

How does running and physical exercise help you manage your mental health?

It helps me get out of my own head. 

When I’m exercising, I’m focusing on pushing my body a little further, on breathing and getting more oxygen. 

I feel like I’m sweating out all my stress (even if it’s just for a moment). 

It clears my head and I feel like I can focus on the day/next task.

In 3 words, tell us about some of those ‘good vibe’ feelings you have after a run?

Strong, focused, alive.

When did you start running?

I used to do ‘Little Athletics’ when I was 5 and it kept going from there. 

Whether it was playing sports (netball, hockey, football, cricket etc) or just running for fun, it’s always been a part of my life.

Where is your favourite location to run?

I like running around my neighbourhood. I’ve lived there my entire life but I always find a change or discover something new.

Do you like exercising with other people or do you prefer to ride solo? 

I love both! 

I love hiking with my family and going to fitness classes with friends because they push me to go a little harder every time. 

When I run, I go alone or take my dog because I like having alone time too.

Tell us about some of your healthy recipes or favourite healthy snacks that keep you going on the run.

Fresh rice paper rolls are super easy and fun to make! 

I usually fill them with carrot, capsicum, cucumber, avocado and peanut satay tofu (store bought). 

Add some basil and coriander (or not) and enjoy it with your favourite sauce – mine is sweet chilli.

I also love peanut butter and banana protein smoothies too! Delicious!

How excited are you for City2Surf?

So excited! The last time I entered, I was 12 and had to walk half of it with a twisted ankle – but luckily my Mum was there for support. 

This time, I’ll be running with my brother and batyr friends.

What motivates you to get you out on a run?

Being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. 

Sometimes though, it really is hard to get outdoors and, on those days, I’m gentle and give myself space. 

On other days, I remind myself that running is good for my mind, body and my soul. Knowing that my body gets stronger with each run is a huge motivator!

 Get amongst the action and help make a difference to the lives of young people. Register to ‘Run for the Herd’ in the 2019 City2Surf or the Bridge to Brisbane!

The Get Talkin’ tour has hit the road!

The Get Talkin’ tour has kicked off and we’re super pumped to get amongst more regional NSW towns over the next two weeks. 

We’ve once again teamed up with the legends at NSW Waratahs and the NSW Positive Rugby Foundation to engage with local rugby clubs, high schools and community members, and start positive conversations about mental health.

Along with learning how to reach out and support those around you, locals will get the chance to play some touch footy with the Waratahs and grab a free feed.

Our first two stops on the tour were at Terrigal and Newcastle. Such incredible communities!

Today, we’re at Maitland Rugby Club before making the trip up to:

  • Quirindi: Tuesday 29 July
  • Tamworth: Wednesday 30 July
  • Armidale: Thursday 1 August

“We love working with regional communities and experiencing the passion they have for supporting each other,” batyr general manager Nic Brown said.

“This tour gives us the opportunity to enhance that support, providing tools and resources that the whole community can get behind.”

We really want to make long-lasting connections and impacts in regional NSW, Nic added.

One in five Aussies will experience a mental health condition in any given year and the odds worsen for those living in regional areas which commonly deal with severe weather events such as drought and flooding.

A person living in rural and remote NSW is twice as likely to die as a result of suicide as a person living in Sydney. 

Olympian and former Waratahs loose forward Pat McCutcheon lives in the bush and has witnessed the hardship currently gripping rural areas.

The drought has had a massive impact, not just on farmers but townships as well. 

Rugby is a way of bringing families and communities together through social inclusion and a sense of connection. This provides a powerful environment for coming together to talk things out and to provide care and support.

“Get Talkin’ isn’t a fly-in, fly-out program,” Pat said.

“It’s a three-year plan that starts with a conversation, builds first aid and mental health officers and then upskills those officers to become trainees.”

“We want to empower the community to provide a service for themselves and their people.”

“The local community becomes self-sufficient, they’re able to help one another and people within their rugby club and greater community. We want to leave them with a legacy.”

batyr regional community coordinator Amy Devrell and Tamworth local said that while events like drought play a huge role in mental health, Get Talkin’ was also about shifting the culture to break down existing stigma.

“It’s a really incredible opportunity to bring more positive messages and literacy about mental health to regional and rural communities across the state,” she said.

“It’s really important for me, on a personal level, to be able to give communities some really practical strategies when times get tough.”

To find out more and to register to attend one of these events, check out the Get Talkin’ page.

Why I Run: Imogen

City2Surf 2019 is only 18 days away so we wanted to ask, “Why do you run?”

We sat down with Imogen, our amazing UTS Uni program coordinator, to find out what gets her motivated to put on her runners.

When you’re not running, what are you up to?

I find myself trying to change things up often because it keeps the variety going! I enjoy boxing and swimming mostly.

I feel that I can switch off in those moments and take that time for myself. I always feel way more relaxed after these forms of exercise.

How does running and physical exercise help you manage your mental health?

Running and physical activity quite literally keeps my mental health in check. 

If I don’t make time for it, I really start to feel unsettled. 

I always feel so much better about myself and the day when I know I’ve taken the time to be outside and away from distractions. 

I find that sometimes it is hard to get up in the morning (especially when it is cold) but I always remind myself of the feeling you get after completing exercise, and that feeling to me is priceless.

In 3 words, tell us about some of those ‘good vibe’ feelings you have after a run?

Your energy is up. Your outlook for the day (or afternoon) is clear. Your ability to tackle the day is set in stone.

When did you start running?

When I was in year 12.

I had one goal of year 12 and that was to win a race. So I put my mind to it and won the Cross Country!

Where is your favourite location to run?

Personally, I love getting out to a national park for a run. 

There is nothing like being able to run along a trail where there is no one else and the only sound is the sound of the bush! 

I feel really at ease in this environment and feel totally disconnected from the usual grind of the city and technology. 

Do you like exercising with other people or do you prefer to ride solo? 

love exercising solo. 

I find that this is an opportunity to take a breath and refocus on what I’m trying to achieve from a particular moment. 

Tell us about some of your healthy recipes or favourite healthy snacks that keep you going on the run.

Can’t go wrong with a banana and a handful of nuts. 

How excited are you for City2Surf?

Extremely excited! 

This is my first year Running for the Herd and I couldn’t be more proud and happier to be a part of this!

What motivates you to get you out on a run?

Making the most of your morning. 

We can get caught up with busy schedules or catching up with friends and family, so I’m a big believer in sacrificing 30 minutes of sleep to get up extra early and take that time for you! 

You are the only one who can control or impact decisions for your everyday: why not take charge and make positive changes to your physical and mental wellbeing?

 Get amongst the action and help make a difference to the lives of young people. Register to ‘Run for the Herd’ in the 2019 City2Surf or the Bridge to Brisbane

batyr adds young voices to VIC Mental Health Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has entered its third week and batyr has added its submission to make young voices heard.

Since 2011, batyr has trained close to 700 young people to share their stories of resilience living with mental ill-health and how they reached out for support.

These experiences provide valuable insight into the realities of navigating the mental health system and, as such, batyr believe the Victorian government should focus on:

  •   Investment into prevention and early intervention to reduce stigma, increase help-seeking and equip young people with the skills to take charge of their mental health.
  •   Amplification of the voices of young people, ensuring lived experience is central to policy development, service provision and research.
  •   Creation of a whole community approach in Victoria to normalise the conversation around mental health.
  •   Collaboration within the mental health space across the whole sector.

Speaking as a witness on the very first day of public hearings, batyr ambassador Nic Juniper said that their voice was their most powerful asset so speaking up about VIC’s mental health system was important.

“Our services cannot handle the current demand of people needing support and many of us fall through the cracks,” they said.

“Mental Illness can make us feel alone, afraid and silenced, but as more and more of us start these conversations, we can create a space for positive change.”

“We all deserve to feel supported, cared for and listened to, and I hope that the Royal Commission will show Australia that we are in desperate need of systemic change, so we can all live to our fullest potential.”

batyr is working to create a space for positive change and we believe the above focus areas are crucial in achieving this.

Peer-to-peer programs 

Peer-to-peer programs are a powerful way to reduce stigma and promote help-seeking behaviour among people experiencing mental ill-health. 

The experience for many young people living with mental-ill health is one of social and self-stigma that leads to isolation, discrimination which, in turn, creates barriers to reaching out for support. This is particularly critical for young people transitioning from school to university or the workforce.

Over the past 6 years, batyr have surveyed 142,905 young people and 90% have indicated that it is important to hear from other young people sharing real stories of mental health. 

However, safe and quality storytelling needs to be a priority for the Victorian government in order to avoid triggering, contagion or harm to participants (see Mindframe Guidelines, 2019). Our submission recommends creating a standardised evaluation process for education and program providers to ensure best practice.

Effectively engaging young people is pivotal to improving the capacity of the Victorian mental health system and reducing the financial burden because it’s a time when many mental illnesses being emerging.

It helps to cultivate a generation of young people who develop the skills and resilience to manage their mental health early on in life, invests in their future as individuals and in the broader community. 

Integration of lived-experience voices in service design

Many of batyr’s speakers describe their first experience with a psychologist being difficult, that they did not feel listened to or understood, and then felt deterred from reaching out again. 

Youth-specific services help to rectify this but long waitlists at headspace centres or university counsellors, for example, do not allow for responsive care when someone is finally taking the first step of reaching out. 

Other speakers describe judgement from professionals such as a GP not taking their eating disorder seriously as they were not underweight. 

Stigma and discrimination around mental ill health have a significant impact on communities that are already experiencing other kinds of discrimination like minority or fringe communities.

Supporting programs tailored to the specific needs and experiences of those groups are important for reducing social and self-stigma. 

These minority groups include the deaf community, LGBTIQ+ community, CALD communities, ATSI communities, low SES groups or people living with disabilities.

For example, within the LGBTIQ+ community, there are higher prevalence rates of mental ill health than for those who do not identify with the community which has been linked to experiences of discrimination (Beyond Blue, 2013). This can also inhibit young LGBTIQ+ people reaching out to professional services as these spaces are not always safe or free from discrimination

Similarly, people who experience more complex mental ill health such as schizophrenia and bipolar also experience higher levels of stigma around their mental ill health (Sane Australia, 2018).

There is a huge amount of work to be done to ensure that services are responsive, professionals properly trained and are appropriate for particular experiences. 

Lived-experience stories help to shed light on the realities and difficulties of the help-seeking process as well as what worked

Embedding peer workers across all service delivery

There is incredible value in peer work and this must be truly recognised to attract, retain and support peer workers in the mental health sector. 

This can be done through training that respects and values the knowledge and skill that comes from experiencing mental ill health and providing the right opportunities.

Since our inception in 2011, we’ve had over 1,500 young people express interest in doing our Being Herd program to become a batyr speaker. 

This training harnesses that passion and provides them an opportunity to become an advocate and use their experiences to make positive change in their communities. 

From our perspective, remuneration is an important element of valuing lived-experience and we believe that all peer work should be properly reimbursed.

A whole community approach 

To create real cultural change and a lasting impact, a peer to peer approach needs to be adopted across all levels of the community. 

That is why our programs involve entire school communities with Parent Forums and Teacher Professional Development programs that allow entire communities to share in positive conversations around mental health. 

Young people in school, specifically, are surrounded by structure so their support network (teachers, parents, guardians, carers, family members, relatives and other family friends) also need to feel empowered to provide support.

Similarly, our work programs focus on reducing mental ill-health stigma, debunking myths and improving wellbeing for employees, employers and coworkers.

Rural communities need particular support

Social isolation, communities with high levels of stigma and a lack of access to or understanding of services make it hard for people to experience good mental health. We know that is a critical problem in regional communities like Gunnedah where we have run programs.

Building supportive communities, improving awareness and access to services and linking people into those services will improve these outcomes. 

There are a large amount of volunteer run organisations, in particular in regional and rural areas (volunteer emergency services, SES, Rotary, Lions Club, church and religious groups, sport clubs, CWA etc.) that have dual purposes of helping others, while contributing to a sense of belonging to those who serve in them. 

Investing in educating these groups on mental health and wellbeing can help re-engineer existing communities to have a more positive view on mental health.

More training and employment opportunities leads to positive outcomes

Mental ill-health not only limits people’s social and economic participation in the Victorian Community, but a lack of opportunities can increase people’s risk of mental health issues. 

One such demographic of individuals within the Victorian community who’s opportunities can be limited by their mental ill-health are young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). 

It has been found that 60% of NEET young people experience mental ill-health and based on research done in Australia, one in five young people seeking help for mental health problems were not in any form of education, employment and training. (O’Dea B, Glozier N, Purcell R 2014)  

Being Herd Pathways is helping young people to overcome these challenges but more investment is needed to provide more employment and training opportunities for young people.

Increasing collaboration within the mental health space

The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (2017) focuses on eight priority areas for a national approach to suicide prevention. 

It is a complex issue that requires a coordinated and integrated effort by all elements of the mental health sector to reduce rates of suicide. 

Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA), for example, play a critical role bringing together organisations from across the sector to find solutions to reduce suicide rates. 

Collaboration, such as the work being done by SPA, is proving incredibly effective and needs to be encouraged across all levels.

To achieve positive mental health outcomes for young people, young voices need to be central to any recommendations handed down by the Royal Commission,” said batyr National Programs Manager Stephanie Vasiliou.

“Preventative mental health education that empowers young people to take charge of their wellbeing and reach out for support early, we believe, will reduce the strain on Victoria’s mental health system and improve the quality of life that young people deserve.”

“ Lived experience is essential in making service provision more effective for young people in need of support.”

We look forward to reading the final recommendations from the Royal Commission which we expect to be released by November this year.

If you would like to learn how to share your lived experience with mental ill-health like Nic Juniper, please register your interest to attend a ‘Being Herd’ workshop.