Youth mental health organisation batyr are delivering free programs to support young people with mental ill-health not in education, employment or training to find meaningful work and have positive conversations about their mental health.
The Being Herd Pathways program includes a digital peer led workshop where young people learn to overcome the stigma of mental ill-health by hearing the story of a young person with lived experience and how they reached out for support and found the right kind of work for them. Participants are supported to find their strengths and identify their next steps.
Young people in the program are then paired with a peer mentor that encourages them to stay motivated on their journey to employment.
The latest round of workshops come at a time when the Australian unemployment rate is predicted to reach a 26-year high of 10% by June due to the effects of COVID-19, according to recent Treasury estimates.
Due to current physical distancing requirements, these workshops will now be delivered online.
Yoosuf’s Pathways experience
For Yoosuf (18), the experience helped him feel less isolated in the struggles he was facing in trying to find employment and the toll it was taking on his mental wellbeing.
Finishing year 12 last year, he decided to take a gap year before starting his studies at university.
“Work, or the lack thereof, is definitely a huge contribution to the anxiety I’m feeling but I think it ties in to the bigger theme of purpose and agency,” he said.
When everyday tasks begin to pile up, Yoosuf said that’s when he feels “emotionally paralysed from anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of days.”
Yoosuf discovered Pathways through his Merrylands job-seeking agency and was drawn to the idea of meeting other young people who may be going through a similar experience as himself.
“I found a strong contrast between the critique and stigma I experienced outside of the program and the activities that shaped the ideas of ‘work’, ‘mental health’ and ‘stigma’ for the better,” he said.
“After the program, I found myself approaching interviews and job searching as a whole with a less cynical, less nihilistic attitude.”
“Throughout my teenage years and into my adult years, music really has been a pivotal theme in my life, and I definitely see a future with myself being heavily involved with music,” he said.
While Yoosuf is still currently looking for employment, he is currently taking part in the Pathways peer to peer mentoring program. He said that the mentoring program has kept him accountable in these trying times.
Yoosuf sees the current COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity to challenge himself to create more of his own music, which also helps mitigate some of the anxiety he is feeling having to take on more of the household duties from his ageing parents.
“I think it’s really put my mental health to the test but I think it’s all worth it and it’s mitigated by my creative endeavours in writing music,” he said.
batyr CEO Nic Brown said that there is a responsibility to make sure that young people who have barriers to employment aren’t left behind, particularly in this challenging environment.
“The best thing about Being Herd Pathways is the ability to help the young person to realise their strengths and to ultimately allow them to see their experiences with mental ill-health as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.”
“Young people who have experienced mental ill-health can often be more resilient and bring a new perspective to their workplace.”
It’s estimated that there are 264,000 youth not in employment, education or training1, with around 60% living with mental ill-health2, and the latter can be a major barrier to gaining employment.
Visit batyr.com.au/being-herd-pathways for upcoming workshop dates and to register your interest to attend.
1 Brotherhood of St. Laurence Dec 2017, Reality Bites: Australia’s youth unemployment in a millennial era
² Goldman-Mellor S, Caspi A, Arseneault L, Ajala N, Ambler A, Danese A, Fisher H, Hucker A, Odgers C, Williams T. Committed to work but vulnerable: self-perceptions and mental health in NEET 18-year olds from a contemporary British cohort. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2016