Amplified Voices Project Update - Batyr

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We are here to support youth mental health throughout COVID-19 and beyond. All our programs will now be delivered online.

Amplified Voices Project Update

June 24, 2020

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Background

To date batyr has reached over 200,000 young people with our programs, creating a platform to have positive conversations about mental health. At the beginning of 2018 we set an audacious goal to reach 1 million people by the end of 2022.

Our impact has grown close to 50% year on year since inception. Furthermore, our board alongside our management team are keen to drive an innovation agenda that builds on the foundations of our programs – amplifying voices and creating a digital movement powered by the stories of young people.

In 2019 we were successfully awarded our first federal grant from the Department of Health to build a digital storytelling product. The product is yet to be named but it’s placeholder name is ‘Amplified Voices’ and it is focused on the design and delivery of a new digital platform which allows young Australians to access and tell positive stories about mental health from their peers anytime, anywhere in a safe, relatable and engaging way.

Why Digital?

The opportunity to grow our service offering and have both greater reach and impact on young people across Australia is ever present and evident by looking at a raft of statistics. Here’s a snapshot of digital usage data across Australia:

  • Australians are adopting digital sources of news and information – Google sent more than 2 billion visits to Australian news websites in 2019
  • Australians have a significant social media presence – approximately 17 million Australians use Facebook, 15 million Australians access YouTube, 9 million Australians use Instagram and 5 million Australians use Twitter
  • Australians are embracing digital communication – almost 10 million Australians use Facebook Messenger, 2.2 million Australians use WhatsApp, and 1.6 million Australians use Skype and these figures are only growing!
  • Australians are also embracing digital services – there are over 8 million Australians using LinkedIn, 11.5 million Australians using Netflix, and 4.3 million Uber users!

The challenge

There is no understating the prevalence of mental ill-health in Australia and around the world. One in five (20%) of Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year and $9.9 billion was spent on mental health in 2017-18. With such a huge proportion of Australians living with a mental ill-health, and with many likely still undiagnosed and not managing their symptoms, the social and economic flow-on effects are significant.

Stigma is also something that needs to be addressed. The World Health Organisation recognises that stigma is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion: it affects people‘s self-esteem, helps disrupt their relationships and limits their ability to socialise and obtain housing and jobs. Stigma hampers the prevention of mental health disorders, the promotion of mental well-being and the provision of effective treatment and care.

It’s a complex web of causality, but storytelling is a proven method to reduce stigma. Through our stories we want to increase the awareness and empathy of all stigmatizing mental health challenges impacting young people – shifting attitudes, influencing behaviour, driving service and policy change.

Our Solution

We see technology as a great enabler, one which will break down accessibility barriers and geographic boundaries and one which will provide young people with a platform to share their stories in a safe and moderated community.

Our solution is being designed to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Expand the impact of peer-to-peer support – amplifying storytelling both face to face and digitally
  2. Reach more young people in Australia with preventative education
  3. Reduce self/societal stigma
  4. Increase help seeking behaviours
  5. Create a movement to influence policy/service quality
  6. Increase peer-to-peer engagement levels
  7. Build a sense of community and connectivity

Our progress

We kicked the Amplified Voices project off in June 2020 in partnership with Fusion Labs and have recently completed the research and design phases. We’re excited to say that we are now in the build phase and are working towards a soft launch in October this year.