I was invited to the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Youth Forum 2015 last week, a one day forum on mental health which was hosted by the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Youth Network which is now in its 4th year. This year's event was facilitated by a company called Batyr.
3 of the participants were my guests today...Jacob, Anshul and Rohit. They were amazing and it was great to see what they got out of the day as well as listening to the pearls of wisdom they shared during the show.
At the start of the forum the participants were asked to speak to their neighbours about mental health and the words used around it. When asked how many thought the words used during their discussion around mental health were positive - 3 people in the whole room put their hands up. The stigma around mental health is huge....more on that a little later.
Be You - no-one does 'you' better than you.
Accepting that what you bring is unique and valuable means we all benefit.
Trying to be like everyone else means we all miss out on
what you, and only you, can share with us.
- To bring young people together to discuss issues of mental health, resilience and leadership in a safe environment
- To understand the importance of looking after your own mental health and explore ways in which this can be achieved.
- To normalise the issue of mental illness amongst young people and the wider community.
- To gain insight into service provision gaps in the school system and the wider community.
- To receive feedback on how schools and communities can better work to engage young people on the issue of mental health.
- To educate teachers, carers and parents about the key drivers of mental health issues amongst young people and how to assist.
The boys in the studio could really relate to Carli and the pressure of her high achieving education. All of the boys separately shared how important they found her presentation and that it would support them in the years to come.
It can be really hard explaining depression to someone who doesn't understand. You feel guilty for having depression
The key phrase that Carli shared was HOPE Hold On Pain Ends
The pressure to do well can contribute to mental health issues
and can lead to not wanting to acknowledge them.
The boys were struck by and keen to remember...
Fall down 7 times Get up 8
The boys in the studio understood that the expression was a gem and related it to soccer games, the HSC or their own outlook on life - never give up.
Giving up is never the answer - remember the ripple effect and how you can make it positive
- Dr Jackie Chapman
- Stefanie Murray
- Dr Philip Tam
- Rob O'Leary
- Danni McClelland
- Carli Freiberg
They enjoyed having Youth Liaison Officer Senior Constable Stefanie Murray there to say the police are not just there to arrest you but actually to ensure you are safe.
Rob O'Leary reminded them that there are so many people out there ready and willing to help you.
Danni McClelland from KYDS shared that when people speak up about having mental health problems then we have an opportunity to support them. She also offered great insights into labelling illnesses such as bi-polar.
Dr Philip Tam shared that you can't read someone's mind or feel what they feel, so it is sometimes hard to understand. It is not straightforward like diabetes. Every one is unique, so the solution is not a one size fits all approach.
Dr Jackie Chapman answered a question about confidentiality - If someone is in danger of harming themselves or another then confidentiality needs to be broken but very often it is discussed with the young person first. There are ways you can talk with the doctor and then discuss what you can share with your parents rather than block them out. This makes for a more supportive structure around the young person.
Carli Freiburg extended on her talk and joined in the conversation around snitching and stigma.
Snitching - not always a bad thing
- It is a hard space to be in - do you share your concern for a friend if they have trusted you in confidence or should you keep quiet.
- It is a big 'ask' to shoulder some of the responsibility of another person's mental illness and risky behaviour, and having people to talk to who can keep what you say confidential means that sharing your concerns is better for your own mental health as well as potentially finding support for your friend.
- You can suggest going to the doctor and that you will go with them. If it doesn't work straight away you can then offer support to keep going to find the right fit rather than give up, which can happen if someone does not find relief straight away. You may need a few tries before you find the right fit both medically and psychologically.
- Important to weigh up the pros and cons of 'snitching'. Carly shared that when her thoughts were bad she was angry about the snitching and when she felt a little better then she appreciated what her friend had done.
If you love someone you would put their support above your fear of not being loved but always get support to make this decision.
At a boys school - you just don't talk about feelings
Stigma and other points to consider
Identifying mental health within one sweeping judgement.
Talk is not cheap - the consequence of this judgement can have far reaching consequences and needs to be addressed.
Battery phrase of the day - Look Listen Talk and Seek Help.
Mental ill health is as normal as physical illhealth and the same attention and understanding should be applied to both.
We need to talk how we are living and what we are taking as normal
that so many people are struggling with mental health.
Self Care for good mental health
- Having a routine in the morning sets you up at the start of the day.
- Knowing yourself and what makes you feel good then making sure you make time for that in your day like a walk, a warm shower, a relaxed bedtime.
- Study for you not your parents or your teachers - or even for what society tells you you must be.
- Build a foundation for yourself so that you can do more in life than study.
- Giving back in life is just as valuable as studying at school.
- Am I doing things to impress other people - don't. Self care is knowing you don't need to impress anyone by accepting you are already all you need to be and without you being all of you the world misses out on what you alone can bring.
- Making mistakes is OK, we will go round and round in order to keep learning that we already know exactly what we need to do or not do, it is learning to trust our innate wisdom.
If we are desperate for love we are more likely to take part in risky behaviour in order to get it. Build a level of love for yourself that you do not compromise
what you know is the right thing to do in order to fit in.
Hornsby Council Youth Services
Youth Beyond Blue
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800