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Young and the Restless

A voice for young people in suicide prevention strategies

What does suicide prevention strategy look like for young people with lived experience? Young panellists hope to spark some poignant conversations.

Media Release - 27 July 2020

Young researchers at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and youth mental health organisation Orygen are integrating lived experience with mental health research to put young people at the centre of their own healthcare journey.

This week, they will bring together young panellists with lived experience of mental ill-health and suicide. Their focus is putting young people with lived experience at the centre of the national conversation and removing the stigma around open and safe conversations about suicide prevention.

Given that suicide rates are rising among young Australians there is an urgent need to do things differently. While the mental health sector has embraced the need for people with lived experience to help shape suicide prevention, there is currently an absence of young voices in suicide prevention and advocacy.

On Wednesday 29 July, Samuel Hockey from the University of Sydney and Orygen researcher Zoe Teh will co-host the Young and the Restless webinar. The panel discussion invites four young people to discuss lived experiences with the mental healthcare system; how young people’s needs could be met; and safe advocacy.

The Young and the Restless webinar is part of YOUTHe’s Flattening the Mental Health Curve series on mental health and suicide prevention in Australia. It supports the suicide modelling work conducted by the Brain and Mind Centre and a suite of system-level innovative research trials led by Orygen.

Samuel Hockey, former National Mental Health Commissioner, lived experience advocate, and researcher with the University’s Brain and Mind Centre said that young people need to be at the centre of their own mental health journey, and integrated into mental health and suicide prevention research, strategies and healthcare services.

“There is a great tradition of academic rigour in mental health research, but we need to ask: Is it useful? Is it helpful? Young people today are the ones accessing mental health services, not those who lived through the system 20 years ago. Today’s youth can bring real-time experience to mental health research.”

“This initiative feeds into the suicide modelling research we’re doing at the Brain and Mind Centre and with Orygen. It puts research into the context of user experience, tests our systems in real time and ensures that the output is not all in vain.

“We hope it sparks an ongoing discussion to remove the stigma around open and safe conversations about suicide prevention. We need to have these awkward conversations,” Samuel said.

Zoe Teh, consulting researcher with Orygen, said suicide prevention needs to look different for young people:

“Very little suicide research actually includes young people as active partners and suicide prevention strategies rely heavily on the views of older people and professionals.

“Suicide rates in young people keep going up. If we are going to make a difference we need to do things differently and young people need to lead this change. The silence that currently surrounds suicide perpetuates stigma and discrimination.

We need to talk openly, and young people need to be part of that conversation
Zoe Teh - Orygen

The Young and the Restless panel is an initiative of YOUTHe, the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence into Suicide Prevention based at the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre in collaboration with CRE investigators from Orygen, the University of Melbourne, emergency services and primary healthcare networks.

The Young and the Restless panel members

Samuel is a former National Mental Health Commissioner and a National Youth Mental Health Ambassador with a history in design. He currently works with the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre as a researcher in youth lived experience and suicide prevention.

Zoe is a research assistant and was previously a youth adviser on the #chatsafe project Orygen, When not working, she is completing her Masters of Organisational Psychology at Deakin, learning how to paint, and sings with Melbourne Indie Voices (currently a digital choir).

Taylor, aged 22, is an osteopathy student who is trying to use his experience of suicidality and mental ill-health to improve health outcomes for young people. He loves getting active outside and is a board member at Live 4 Life - a regional mental health education organisation.

Alex, aged 17, is the youngest panellist. He is part of the Youth Advocacy Group at headspace Werribee and has lived experience with suicidality, mental ill-health, and being tossed around the system.

Annabel, aged 23, is a law and communications student majoring in policy at UTS. Passionate about self-advocacy and constructive peer-to-peer dialogue, she seeks to shatter the stigma through imparting her lived experience as a speaker for batyr, a preventative mental health organisation created by young people.

Finnian, aged 19, is a communications student of RMIT. As a wacky but sensitive kid from the Melbourne suburbs, he has always been passionate about tearing down mental health stigmas through the never-ending pursuit for truth and peace.

For interview with panellists:

Kim Taylor, National media coordinator, Orygen

+61 432 570 651
E: kim.taylor@orygen.org.au

For interviews with Samuel Hockey or about the webinar or the Brain and Mind Centre:

Kobi Print, University of Sydney

+61 481 012 729
E: kobi.print@sydney.edu.au

For tips for journalists on responsible coverage of mental health stories visit the mindframe website.

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