As part of its Jigsaw community program, Viva Energy has partnered with headspace, Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, to focus on supporting young people to become mental health role models in their local communities.
Viva Energy decided to focus on mental health after asking its employees what issues were most important to them.
“We gave people a list of around 15 potential issues. The two most important issues that came back were mental health and substance abuse," says Jo Powell, External Communications and Social Investment Manager for Viva Energy.
One in four young people is affected in any 12 months by a mental health issue. That means nearly every person in the Viva Energy workforce is touched by mental health issues, whether they're experiencing those issues themselves or have family members or colleagues who are.
Important community work
Research shows that 75 per cent of mental health issues emerge before the age of 25. headspace offers a range of services for young people through its drop-in centres as well as its online and phone service, eheadspace. This includes support for mental and physical health problems as well as vocational work, schools-based programs and study programs.
At a community level, headspace hopes the partnership with Viva Energy will increase awareness and understanding of mental health issues in local communities around Australia, says chief medical officer Dr Natalie Gray.
“What we're hoping to do with Viva Energy is to create opportunities for young people to become mental health role models and advocates for talking about mental health in their local communities," she says.
Dr Gray explains this is important because how young people feel and talk about their own issues is influenced by people in the community who they respect – whether that's their peers, celebrities or sports stars.
“We're also supporting young people to get training in mental health first aid. This helps young people go out and relate to their family, friends and other young people that they see through work and study who are experiencing mental health problems.”
Viva Energy chose to work with headspace because the two organisations share similar values and a national footprint.
"headspace is doing a fantastic job addressing mental health problems affecting young people," Powell says. "Plus, we were keen to focus on our key operating areas in Geelong, Newport, Clyde, Parramatta and Gore Bay, and headspace has centres in those areas.”
Dr Gray agrees the two organisations are well matched; both believe in supporting the local community and building the resilience of young people.
“Young people in Australia are facing a number of challenges, many of which relate to mental health, stigma and their capacity to be advocates in their community," she says.
"It seems to us that Viva Energy really understood that, both for their own workforce and for the broader local communities that they are working in.”
For more information on Viva Energy, please visit www.vivaenergy.com.au