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batyr hits the big stage at 2019 NEXUS Global Summit

September 20, 2019

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We’re still coming down from our visit to the NEXUS Global Summit in New York where we had the opportunity to make new connections, showcase our model, and contribute to the global conversation around mental health.

We made such an impression at the conference that batyr founder Seb Robertson was asked to co-chair the NEXUS Global working group on mental health, a member-led group formed to drive change and accelerate solutions to the global mental health crisis.

Why is NEXUS such a big deal?

NEXUS is a global movement of more than 3,500 young people from over 70 countries working to unite young philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, impact investors and allies in order to accelerate global solutions to the world’s greatest social issues. Founded in New York in 2011, and convened in partnership with the United Nations HQ, NEXUS brings together young leaders at NEXUS Summits and events around the world for dialogue, education, and collaborative problem-solving.

Seb, our national programs manager Stephanie Vasiliou, and our partnerships manager Lucy Steggles joined a 28-strong contingent from Australia, representing a number of fields including the environment and climate change, LGBTIQA+ and diversity inclusion, the empowerment of women and girls, and refugees and forced displacement.

Australian NEXUS contingent, including batyr founder Seb Robertson (second from left), program manager Stephanie Vasiliou (fourth from left) and partnerships manager Lucy Steggles (fifth from left).

It was a chance for us to explain the importance of taking a preventative/early intervention approach to mental health and the importance of using the voices of those with a lived experience to help inform solutions around policy formation, service provision, and program delivery.

Our goal is to be recognised as global leaders in mental health story-sharing and stigma reduction by 2022.

Other speakers at NEXUS included:

  • UNICEF global executive director Henrietta Fore.
  • Kojo Annan, son of the late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
  • Actress, model and LGBTIQA+ advocate Cara Delevingne.
  • International Anti Poaching Foundation founder Damian Mander.

NEXUS highlights

Seb’s keynote

Seb delivered a plenary presentation with United for Global Mental Health founder Elisha London, including sharing a little about his own lived experience with mental ill-health, what led him to start batyr, and what our impact has been in Australia.

batyr founder Seb Robertson with United for Global Mental Health founder Elisha London

batyr’s break out session

Later, we ran a break out session at The New School, a university in Downtown Manhattan on how the untold stories of mental health has the power to change the perceptions of mental health.

“We asked attendees which words come to mind when they think about mental health,” Stephanie said.

“Just like when we run a programs in Australia, the associated words often had connotations related to mental illness, such as sadness, despair, depression, and suicide.”

“This was despite the fact we were asking about mental health in general, which is so much more than a mental illness.”

batyr’s breakout session at The New School, New York

“After the session, it was incredible to see a shift in how people viewed mental health, with the associated words changing to positive words like hope, reaching out and support.”

We had many NEXUS members from around the world  approach us after our session wanting to start a conversation and find out more about what we do. It was really promising and humbling to see the impact we had at NEXUS!

What’s next?

With Seb taking the lead role in the Mental Health Working Group, he will help drive the messaging within the Australian NEXUS community in the lead up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

“Countries don’t want to be left behind in continuing the mental health conversation so our role in this working group will be to facilitate these conversations across borders,” Seb said.

“We want to maintain the momentum from NEXUS in order to reach more collaborators, supporters, organisations and governments and keep mental health on the agenda.”

batyr will continue to build our presence in the global community and we look forward to NEXUS Global 2020, and the NEXUS Australia Summit in April next year!