22 March 2021, Western Sydney – Youth mental health charity batyr will announce on Thursday a new and important partnership with Western Sydney University that will bring together experts in youth engagement with some of the brightest minds in youth research.
batyr will be running a free online event on Thursday 25 March to launch the partnership with WSU’s Young and Resilient Research Centre and detail an innovative project aiming to learn from the voices of young people and better support their mental health needs.
While young people are clearly using and engaging with social media platforms, only 4% of wellbeing apps are designed specifically for young people, with only 7% of all wellbeing apps incorporating peer support or social media. There are also no apps aimed at improving mental health literacy or articulation.
Thanks to funding from the federal government, batyr has been able to create a unique solution to this problem. OurHerd is an app for young people aged 16-24, co-designed and developed in collaboration with over 500 young people and 71 mental health professionals. The platform allows users to view, create and share safe, relatable and engaging stories about navigating tough times, and every story is moderated, so they are safe, real, honest and authentic.
“Research tells us that one of the greatest ways to achieve behavioural change around mental health stigma reduction is through peer-to-peer storytelling, and an effective digital platform can be the vehicle to amplify these stories of hope and resilience,” said Josh Wiseman, Head of Data and Insights at batyr.
“OurHerd, aims to plug these gaps, and even turn some of the negative effects of digital and social media on their head, by creating positive and supportive online communities for young people to share their story and hear from others safely and to learn where and how they can reach out for support.”
Under the partnership, WSU researchers will be conducting an outcome evaluation of the OurHerd platform at its current stage of development, and determine its effectiveness as a platform in tackling some of the factors preventing young people from taking steps to take charge of their mental health, including high rates of mental health stigma and low mental health literacy. The research will also examine how OurHerd fits into the lives of users with lived experiences of mental ill-health, their peer networks and their friendship groups, in order to support intervention.
Special guests will be joining to shine a spotlight on the current state of mental health in Australia, and discuss how this collaboration will be a formidable force for good in improving the wellbeing of young people:
- The Hon David Coleman MP. Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, who will be having a live Q&A.
- Professor Deborah Sweeney, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Research, Enterprise & International
- Associate Professor Philippa Collin, Co-Director of the WSU Young and Resilient Research Centre
- Host – batyr Head of Data and Insights, Josh Wiseman
From speaking with young people, batyr discovered there are many barriers preventing early conversations about mental health from happening which, in turn, can prevent young people from reaching out for help when needed
“Young people identified a strong preference for self-reliance, and identified mental health stigma and low mental health literacy as key barriers to getting the right support that they needed,” Josh said.
The platform is designed to overcome these hurdles by encouraging open and honest storytelling and conversations.
“OurHerd provides a framework for young people to tell their story in ways that move past extreme, medicalised and often negative language, to more positive, uplifting and hopeful language,” Josh said.
OurHerd’s development was kick-started 18 months ago through the Morrison Government’s three-year $2.8 million funding commitment as part of its larger national mental health and suicide prevention plan.
“We are extremely grateful to the Department of Health for making the development of OurHerd possible,” Josh said.
“The partnership with WSU marks a new and exciting phase of the project, and is another step in ensuring the app will make a positive difference in the lives of young people when it is officially launched to the masses later this year.”