21 July 2020, Armidale Australia – Youth mental health organisation batyr has adapted its educational programs into a digital offering in response to COVID-19, with The Armidale School (TAS) one of the first schools to experience ‘batyr Online’.
The new digital offering, which was first developed in response to COVID-19 social distancing measures and made possible by a $73,000 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, has been successfully delivered to a number of high schools across Australia.
This has allowed batyr to continue the mental health conversation with high school students, teachers and parents, including those in regional communities like Armidale.
“The videos were well-received by staff and students, as part of a broadwellbeing program designedto help TAS students and staff during COVID restrictions,” said TAS director of pastoral care AJ Whalley.
“The brief videos and subsequent discussions that took place fitted in nicely with our advisor periods (small groups of students from years 10-12 who meet for 20 minutes, four times per week), with the format adapted for younger year groups.”
“It has been a testing period for staff, students and families with the ongoing drought, bushfires and current pandemic, and one of the common trends we have seen is how much students have missed the face to face interaction with their peers.”
AJ said the batyr Online resources complemented other ways TAS has sought to engage and connect students with each other and staff, including a 1000km physical challenge, online co-curricular clubs and a tri-weekly video newsletter.
Research has shown that one of the most important ways for mental health education to be effective is for contact to be local and continuous*.
”We are adapting to the changing environment but what hasn’t changed is our message of smashing the stigma of mental health and encouraging young Australians to seek help when they need it,” batyr CEO Nic Brown said.
“batyr Online means our contact with the school community can continue throughout the year and our message of reaching out for support is able to be reiterated to students regularly.”
Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation Chair Phil Neat said the board was proud to partner with batyr to provide a platform that will support regional communities during COV1D-19.
“The Charitable Foundation has a remarkably simple mission. That is, to help people who are disadvantaged, marginalised or isolated in our regional communities.”
“Despite the challenges presented to our communities in the past six months, the Foundation remains committed to its mission to support organisations like batyr that make our regional communities stronger”, he said.
Even with thousands of students returning to school, the digital resources will help to complement batyr’s traditional program delivery, with the resources able to be accessed and utilised in a flexible way so as to adapt to the changing learning environment that schools now face.
The continued development and delivery of batyr Online would not be possible without the generous support of the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, which awarded batyr the $73,000 grant as part of a $750,000 funding package to provide immediate support to communities and enable community-lead recovery as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
What is batyr Online?
batyr Online resources include:
Digital lived experience stories
Pre-recorded digital stories from our lived experience speakers. Here is Kyle from regional Victoria.
Each story comes with a detailed debrief of the story from one of our trained facilitators. This means that the message of hope and resilience within the story will be highlighted and the story will be connected
to your students’ current experiences. By hearing from one of their peers about how they got through a tough time your students will be more likely to feel empowered to reach out for support when they need it.
Ongoing resource support
In collaboration with ReachOut, we will provide ongoing resources for school communities to keep mental health in focus, such as:
- Signs to look out for if you think a friend might be struggling with mental health, and how to start a safe conversation.
- Learning about the support networks and services available.
- How to cope with stress and anxiety.
- Keeping mentally healthy when dealing with change and transition, such as graduating from high school.
Interactive facilitated activities
Teachers are provided with lesson plans for activities to continue to explore the concepts about mental health in the classroom. These can either be delivered by the teachers or one of our trained facilitators.
batyr’s digital 5 tips
A digital version of the batyr’s 5 tips, tailored specifically to students looking after themselves within the current physical distancing limitations. Our 5 tips are Look Out, Get Talking, Listen Up, Reach Out and Take Charge.
Interactive Q&A sessions
We’re able to run interactive Q&A sessions for students and teachers run by our facilitators with mental health experts and lived experience speakers sharing their knowledge about how to look after themselves, their students and their colleagues.