batyr partners with JCU to support student mental wellbeing

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25 May 2020, TownsvilleYouth mental health organisation batyr has partnered with James Cook University to support student wellbeing.

The partnership comes at a time when students have had to adapt to the realities of physical distancing, which is bringing with it increased levels of anxiety and stress. This is particularly true of many international students, who have expressed a sense of abandonment and isolation under the COVID-19 lockdown.

“batyr is so excited to be working with JCU students and staff to create positive conversations about mental health across the university. We want to promote support systems that exist for students and ensure that not only is everyone comfortable speaking about mental health but are accessing support when they need it,” batyr CEO Nic Brown said.

“There is a crucial need for hope and connection during this time of isolation and our programs aim to create that connection with young people at a peer level.”

The purpose of the partnership is to smash the stigma around mental health, which is a common barrier that prevents more young people from reaching out for support.

Under the partnership, batyr will deliver:

  • Mental health awareness and wellbeing events or initiatives to be driven by the student leadership team chosen by batyr.
  • batyr’s Being Herd speaker training workshop to find local speakers to safely share their experiences at batyr’s university peer to peer programs.
  • Educational mental health programs that empower young people to reach out for support when they need it and how to start a life-changing conversation with someone who may be going through a tough time. Storytelling is at the heart of the programs, with a trained lived experience speaker sharing their story of mental ill-health and how they reached out for support.

JCU Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students) Professor Maree Dinan-Thomson said the partnership would complement the University’s existing programs and help normalise wellbeing.

“We want to let our students know that sometimes it’s ok not to be ok – the key thing is for students to access the plethora of supports available to them early to help them if things get a little tough,” she said.

“The programs will also let our students hear from other students who have successfully navigated their own journey, sharing first-hand their experiences of dealing with mental health issues. There is nothing stronger than hearing from peers who have walked the walk, so to speak, about what worked for them in their recovery journey.  

“Peer support strategies are strong at JCU and students will be able to develop their own ‘tool kit’ of useful strategies that will assist them in their student journey, and their personal life, from hearing these success stories from batyr ambassadors.”