batyr welcomes Children’s Mental Health Strategy

The Government has announced a children’s mental health strategy focused on prevention and stigma-reduction as part of its Long Term National Health Plan.

batyr believes it’s a positive step to see the Government pursuing a national preventative mental health strategy, with a major focus on young people aged 0-12.

Half of all mental health conditions in adulthood will emerge by the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24 (Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR & Walters EE [2005]).

Early prevention is key to achieving positive outcomes so we also agree with the approach to work closely with families, parents and schools to better engage young people earlier in life to reduce the risk of more complex mental health conditions emerging in adulthood.

What is the focus of the Children’s Mental Health Strategy?

The strategy will provide a framework to:

  • embed protective skills in early childhood
  • create mentally healthy home environments
  • support parents, including a new guide to help parents identify signs of self-harm.
  • prevent or treat early childhood trauma

“The earlier we intervene in someone’s life, the more positive their life course can be and the faster they move into treatment and recovery,” National Mental Health Commissioner Lucy Brodgen said.

The national working group tasked with implementing this framework will be led by conjoint Professor of Child and Youth Psychiatry at the Child Health Research Centre and Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service Christel Middeldorp, and director for the Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children’s Hospital Professor Frank Oberklaid.

Ongoing focus on stigma-reduction

Amid the long-term plan, Minister Hunt said the Government is committed to reducing mental health stigma. 

“Self-stigma is the great frontier we have yet to conquer,” he said in his address to the National Press Club last week. 

“As a Government, and through the nation’s leaders, organisations, schools and the community, we will work to ensure there will be no shame – in particular, no shame in our own mental health challenges – when we reach out for help.”

One powerful way to change the narrative around help-seeking is through lived experience story-telling at school, he added.

“[The Prime Minister and I] recently went out to an education session by this amazing group of young people with lived experience called batyr.”

“The workshop was focused on the speaker’s journey from clinical depression or suicidality and how positive actions were able to allow them on the path to recovery.”

What else will the long-term plan deliver?

The children’s mental health framework is one of the major components of the Government’s 2030 mental health vision, which also includes:

  • establishing a ‘towards zero’ suicide target and culture through a whole-of-government approach driven by Australia’s first National Suicide Prevention Adviser, Christine Morgan.
  • a 3-year inter-generational survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to inform and co-design the plan which will involve around 60,000 Australians.
  • $8 million for suicide prevention research through the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission, with the next round of funding open for competitive applications in November 2019.
  • $111 million to deliver 30 more headspace centres, bringing the total to 145 centres across Australia, and a promise to deliver a network of adult mental health centres by 2030.
  • $110 million for the Early Psychosis Youth Services Program, where practitioners provide intervention and specialist support services to young people who are, or at risk of, experiencing psychosis.
  • $114.5 million to establish eight adult mental health centres.
  • $63 million for residential eating disorder centres in each state and territory.
  • $36.7 million to expand Way Back services in selected regions, to support people after attempting suicide.

batyr applauds the Government’s focus on prevention and stigma-reduction, the two main factors that will lead to positive mental health outcomes in Australia.

We welcome any further opportunities to be involved in consultations to deliver the plan over the next three to 10 years.

You can check out the complete Long Term Health Plan here.

Wear it Purple Day: George’s Story

Today is Wear it Purple Day and we recognise the unique experiences of LGBTQIA+ young people in Australia.

As a student-run, not-for-profit organisation, Wear it Purple also aims to change societal attitudes and to ensure that the wellbeing of queer individuals is equal to that of their peers.

batyr speaker and Program Support Coordinator George shares his story on the importance of standing up and standing out on Wear it Purple Day to celebrate and empower all rainbow youth:

Feelings of celebration and empowerment are ones that have taken a long time for me to embody within myself; in fact, for most of my life I felt the very opposite of these things.

When I started to realise as a teenager that I was gay, I felt scared, stressed, ugly, unworthy of love, and deserving of what I realised was the homophobic bullying I experienced as a child.

These feelings that I was ‘wrong’ in some way were made even stronger by the traditionally conservative and heteronormative cultural background of my upbringing. The resulting repression of my sexuality, as well as the competing identities I experienced at home with family, at school, at university, at work, and with friends, gave way to anxiety, depression, dissociation, and body image difficulties.

Through a large amount of professional and personal support over the last few years, I no longer experience the mental ill-health I once did. I am blessed to have a wonderful group of friends that were steadfast in their loyalty, in their constant presence, and always checking in with me. They linked me in with professional mental health support (in the form of EMDR therapy), which gave me the strength and internal resources to come out to my family, move out of home, and change my career path to one that now gives me a great sense of meaning and purpose. Today, the relationship with my family is the strongest it’s ever been, I feel so proud to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and I practice self-care through practising loving kindness to myself and others.

These feelings of connection and affirmation can and should be felt by all rainbow young people. We need to make sure all social, educational, and work environments are safe, inclusive, respectful of difference, and are run by groups of people who are open to growing in and doing better for diversity and inclusion. We need to acknowledge and validate the unique experiences of discrimination and marginalisation of LGBTQIA+ youth, as well as their strength and spirit, and call out instances of violence and oppression directed towards them when we see such things occur.

We need to offer support and active allyship through awareness of our un/conscious heteronormative and cisgendered biases. And we need to make sure that rainbow young people know that they are beautiful and loved, they are not alone, they have an innate resilience to live their best life, and they can help change the world if they want to.

Such messages and measures save lives. That’s why a day like today, Wear It Purple Day, is so necessary.

Wear it Purple Day can be so empowering for some, but can be really tough for others, so if you or someone you know is struggling and would like some LGBTQIA+ safe and friendly services to reach out to, check out the below:

  • QLife – Call 1800 184 527 or use webchat 3pm-midnight everyday.
  • Reach Out – Find a LGBTQIA+ services in your state/territory.

If you’re looking for a more specific service, get in touch with us and we can let you know about some of the services that exist in your region.

George will also be sharing his story at batyr’s mental health workplace presentation on supporting LGBTQIA+ young people next month at Serco Asia Pacific.

If you would like to learn how to share your story, register your interest to attend a ‘Being Herd’ workshop.

Manly gym owner backs batyr in ‘My Community Project’

A Brookvale gym owner is campaigning his Manly community to vote for batyr in the NSW government’s My Community Project.

My Community Project allows local residents to have their say on what initiatives the NSW government should be funding that will have a positive effect on their community. Manly residents have the opportunity to vote for up to five projects out of a total of 20.

J-train Athletic Performance founder James Brodie is advocating for batyr as his top pick because he has noticed the shift in the resilience of young men in his community over the past decade.

“I personally don’t have a personal experience with mental ill-health but numerous close friends have had it pretty tough over the years.”

“I remember losing a classmate to suicide when I was at school and I struggled to understand why he couldn’t have reached out for help.”

In his day-to-job, James added that he can see the positive impact that physical exercise has on the mental health of his clients.

With his extensive work in the rugby community, he said that young men, in particular, need to have access to workshops, like those run by batyr, so they can learn strategies to manage and cope with mental ill-health.

“We are doing a few social media campaigns and actively promoting batyr to be Manly’s number one community project throughout the gym to our members and clients,” James said.

batyr is asking for $102,596 in funding to deliver:

  • 24 [email protected] programs (years 9-12)
  • 4 community and ambassador training forums
  • 4 parent forums
  • 4 teacher mental health professional development.

These programs will be delivered by a dedicated batyr project team and will be executed during the 12 months following the awarding of the grant, beginning with the public community engagement forums.

Manly residents can vote here and voting closes on Thursday 15 August.


Once you’re logged in, simply select the red ‘Shortlist me’ button on batyr’s project page.

You have the opportunity to vote for up to four other projects in the Manly electorate before submitting your choices!

Sleep Awareness Week: Q&A with Dr Happy

To celebrate Sleep Awareness Week we sat down with the wonderful Dr. Happy (The Happiness Institute) about why a good night’s sleep is important for our mental health.

How does sleep deprivation affect our memory?

The long term effects of sleep deprivation on our memory can be quite significant.

If we don’t get enough sleep basically our brains don’t work as well, so we don’t think as clearly, we don’t remember things and we don’t make decisions nearly as well as we could do.

How can a bad night’s sleep impact our problem solving skills?

If we don’t get enough sleep at night, we don’t think clearly and so we don’t solve problems nearly as well, we’re not as resilient and so we give up a lot more easily.

Whereas, getting a good night’s sleep helps us to think through things more thoroughly, we persevere for longer.

We’re far more likely to solve problems.

How can sleep help us turn unhealthy thoughts into healthy ones?

Healthy thinking is a big part of our mental health and we need to get good sleep to be able to think more clearly through problems so we can think more positively.

So if we get better sleep, we’ve got more energy, more motivation to do most things well, to look after ourselves well, including thinking in a more helpful and constructive way.

How can young people easily improve their sleep health?

The first thing you need to do is make sleep a priority.

Too many people don’t prioritise it so they put other things first, so they spend extra time flicking through their phone, scrolling through social media, watching Netflix.

Now these things aren’t bad, but if we go through into the night too late, we won’t get enough sleep and we’ll suffer the next day.

We need to make it a priority, need to build good sleep habits, get a healthy routine before going to sleep. We need to manage worry and stress.

And ideally, other things that can help are reducing caffeine intake, exercising regularly, and practising relaxation or meditation skills.

How is our mental health impacted by a bad night’s sleep?

The most obvious thing that happens when we get a bad night’s sleep is that we feel tired, and everything seems harder to cope with.

So, if you’re already susceptible to mental ill-health, you’ll suffer a bit more when you don’t get enough sleep.

You’ll be more irritable, more frustrated, and things become overwhelming.

How do you ensure you get a good night’s sleep?

One of the things I’ve been doing for a long time, and I hinted at this in one of the other segments, is to make sleep a priority.

I know that for me, it’s really important for my mental health. I’s just as important as thinking good thoughts, as exercising, as connecting with other people.

So I make sure as often as possible, that I get to sleep at a reasonable time and that I get up at a reasonable time as well.

If I don’t make it a priority, it’s easier to get tired and when I get tired, I’m more likely to get depressed and stressed.

The very generous Dr Timothy Sharp (Dr Happy) has also come on board to support and has agreed to give anyone who donates $20 or more to batyr during this week a free* e-copy of his bestselling book, ‘The Good Sleep Guide’. Click here to donate and receive your free copy!

*Offer only available for Sleep Week 5th – 10th August. You will receive your free e-copy of The Good Sleep Guide at the end of Sleep Awareness Week.

Why I Run: Alex

City2 Surf is THIS SUNDAY and in the lead up to this massive weekend, we’ve been asking young people, “Why do you run?”

Today, we’re profiling Aussie surfer, all round legend and one of our charity superstar runners Alex Hayes.

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

Daily exercise helps keep me accountable.  I can’t give in to my weaknesses so I teach myself to push through and rise above.

 When did you start running?

I’ve always been a water boy so it’s only recently that I have started running just to prove to myself I can become good at it.

 What motivates you to run, and what gets you out the door when you’re not feeling as motivated?

I don’t want to let myself down!  I have set a goal for City2Surf and I want to make it a reality.

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

Holy f$&k yes!

 Where is your favourite location to run?

Manly – Long Reef has great tracks!

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

It’s more therapeutic solo and I feel like I get super-driven, but also with mates for a social start helps get you going.

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

I make smoothies daily with fruit and natural protein; makes me feel healthy.

 When you’re not running, how do you keep busy?

Staying on top of my work, like making music, planning videos and working on strategies and steps to grow my company @thedailyliving!

I’m always learning and just enjoying day by day.

 How excited are you for City2Surf?

I’m so excited to run City2Surf this year.

Last year, I didn’t train but this year I have done a little bit of running, so we will see!

I chose to run for batyr because they are such a great organisation and I really believe in their message and purpose to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health with young people.

Honoured to run with them!

 Join Alex 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 responds to the call of teacher mental wellbeing

Over half of Australian teachers are experiencing anxiety and around one in five are living with depression, according to new research from Bond University.

A total of 166 Australian school teachers aged 22-65, flagged work environment, workload and finances as the most significant sources of stress.

With 18% of participants meeting criteria for moderate to severe depression, this puts depression amongst teachers at a higher rate than the national average of 10% (National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2007).

batyr understands this challenge to improve positive outcomes for teachers’ mental health and our National Program Manager Stephanie Vasilou had the opportunity to sit down with teacher and freelance writer Polly Dunning to listen to her first-hand experience.

We loved one of Polly’s many suggestions which was for more schools to embrace teacher mental health committees.

Worryingly, around 17% of the survey participants were found to have an alcohol dependency, which is often used as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety.

Polly said that schools that have established committees have provided teachers with a platform to talk about their mental health and to take healthier preventative steps to manage it.

batyr’s focus will always be to engage, educate and empower young people to better understand their mental health and to reach out for support when they need it.

However, teacher burnout is associated with higher levels of cortisol (our stress hormone) in students, the Bond University study found.

Improving mental health outcomes for young people takes a whole community approach so we value feedback from teachers and recognise the important role that they play in the lives of young people.

batyr’s Teacher Professional Development workshops aim to turn the tide

Our [email protected] Teacher PD workshops provide a safe and open platform for teachers to gain a greater level of awareness of what mental ill-health is like for a student at their school and how they can provide support.

It better equips teachers in starting those conversations and how to provide support, with each program specifically tailored to the school type and the mental health trends being experienced.

However, we also educate teachers on how to identify their own support networks and services, whether they’re experiencing stress, anxiety, or more complex mental ill-health.

The Teacher PD workshop involves:

  • Educating teachers on how ‘take charge’ of their own mental health.
  • Identifying what the role of a teacher is and what isn’t.
  • Listening to the experience of a young person with mental ill-health and how their teacher made a lasting impact.
  • Getting a better understanding of the welfare and wellbeing processes within a school.
  • Learning about the mental health services available in the local area.

Teacher PD programs contribute to 2 hours of QTC registered PD in NSW, as per 4.4.2 and 4.1.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Delivering a positive impact to teachers

batyr has delivered a total of 20 Teacher PD programs across NSW, ACT, QLD and VIC since 2016, reaching over 1,763 teachers.

After each program, we ask teachers to rate on a scale from 1-10 the likelihood of them reaching out for help when they needed it.

The average help-seeking score after watching a program was 81%, compared to the national help-seeking average of 23% (National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2007).

That’s because teachers simultaneously learn to model positive mental health strategies during the workshop.

St Peters Lutheran College school psychologist Matt O’Connor

A great example of the positive power of our workshops is St Peters Lutheran College in Brisbane

We have run six professional development days at the school, which employs several hundred teachers.

St Peters school psychologist Matt O’Connor said the feedback from their teachers highlights the value they place on being provided with quality information and ideas for supporting mental health and wellbeing.

The workshops have made a significant impact in addressing this need, he said.

“The combination of an energetic presenter, quality and informative content, and the profound effect of someone with a lived-experience presenting, all combine to provide a really unique and beneficial program,” Matt said.

“One of the other important factors in a school of our size is ensuring that everyone has a consistent level of understanding around identifying and responding to the range of mental health experiences our students and teachers have.”

“In this way, the batyr teacher PD program does an excellent job of providing a common knowledge to our staff.”

“Some of the conversations initiated in the batyr Teacher PD’s have really helped to establish greater comfort and clarity for staff in understanding the range of options available to them for looking after their own mental health and also in how they support their students,” he said.

We always encourage feedback from teachers and parents in our efforts to continually improve our workshops and to ensure they are having the most effective impact.

Register your interest for a Teacher Professional Development program to be delivered at your school.

You can find more results from the survey on the Bond University website.


Why I Run: Sami

We’re so excited for City2Surf next Sunday 11th August!

We’re asking young people, “Why do you run?”

We caught up with the wonderful Sami, who is ‘Running for the Herd’ this year, to see what keeps her motivated.

 When did you start running?

 I started running years ago, I would run regularly in high school, I’ve always loved running and before I was old enough to go to the gym, running was my main form of exercise!

 What motivates you to run, and what gets you out the door when you’re not feeling as motivated?

 Running for me is ‘me time’, it’s my form of meditation if I’m running with no headphones.

It’s my opportunity to pop in a good podcast and learn something new, listen to something motivating.

It’s my time to get out in nature.

I always feel alert, fresh and mindful after a good run… especially when it ends with a swim!

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

 Running is a mindless activity, which helps me focus in on my body and the views, a chance to quieten my mind, a form of meditation.

Exercising through yoga or at the gym doing CrossFit are both quite cognitive tasks, so my whole mind is focused in on the task of the yoga flow or throwing the weights around safely.

It’s an opportunity to escape my mental noise, to quieten the any ruminations and ongoing over-thinking I’m experiencing.

I never ever ever feel worse after movement of any kind!

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

 Elation, energised and empowered (to have a good day!)

 Where is your favourite location to run?

 The beach! My top three…

  1. Merewether beach to Newcastle beach
  2. Nobbys break wall to Newcastle beach and up around King Edward Park
  3. At Burwood beach on the sand

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

 Ride solo!

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

 Peanut butter on anything… rice cakes, roasted sweet potato, carrot/celery/cucumber sticks is my GO TO!

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

 Working as a full-time physiotherapist at Next Gen Physio in Kotara, practising and teaching yoga, going to the gym, throwing some weights around, being at the beach, cuddling random’s dogs or drinking coffee… sums me up!

 How excited are you for City2Surf?

 Very excited and very nervous to run the 14km with millions of people (big crowds aren’t my thing).

 Join Sami 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!

Why I Run: Jake

City2Surf is coming up next week! 

 We sat down with inspiring 13 year old Jake, who is running for the Herd in the City2Surf next Sunday 11th August!

 When did you start running?

 I started running in year 3 at the school’s cross country carnival.

 What do you enjoy most about running?

 The feeling of going fast, being outdoors and being able to push myself further each race or training session.

 When did you first hear about batyr and why did you choose to support them through the City2Surf?

 Through the City2Surf site. I wanted to raise money for a good cause, and being a teenager at school, what better than to raise awareness for mental health issues, and helping young people have a voice around this issue.

 Will you be running with any other mates or family on the day?

 I will be running with my mum. I have been training with my dad for the event.

 How has your training been going in the lead up?

 The training so far is going to plan. I have been lucky that I have had a number of races of late that have helped me prepare for City2Surf, but I have never run more than 14 kms before, so hopefully I’m good to go.

 How excited are you for City2Surf?

 I can’t wait to tear the course up!

 Help Jake make a difference to the lives of young people! Register to ‘Run for the Herd’ in the 2019 City2Surf or the Bridge to Brisbane!  

Why I Run: Ari

Ari is one of many marvellous young people who have taken up the call to ‘Run for the Herd’ in the City2Surf, raising funds that allow us to continue our work across Australia.

We asked Ari, “Why do you run?”

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

When you’re not running, what are you up to? Playing beach volleyball, swimming or at the gym.

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

Movement helps settle down my mind like nothing else. 

It feels like the stress exits my body through my head; like a pressure cooker being released.

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

Elated, calm, pumped.

When did you start running?

Since coming out of the womb.

Where is your favourite location to run?

Coogee to Bondi track.

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

Both. Mixing it with people is even more amazing.

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

love dates and dried apples for quick energy on the go.

How excited are you for City2Surf?


What motivates you to get you out on a run?

The feeling of calm after the run.


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!