headspace campaign empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to manage mental health
Australia’s national youth mental health foundation, headspace, has today launched a suite of new resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, empowering them to take charge of their social and emotional wellbeing.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 24 and under are three times more likely than other young people to die by suicide. Responding to this urgent need for support, the ‘Take a Step’ campaign encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to recognise the signs that something’s not right – and provides small, practical steps towards feeling better.
The materials have been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members from across Australia, including a reference group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people with lived experience of mental ill-health.
headspace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Practice & Engagement Coordinator William Oui described ‘Take a Step’ as a unique and powerful approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing.
“This is a campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who understand that it’s important to yarn up and seek help when you’re not feeling too deadly,” William, a Torres Strait Islander man, said.
“Often the best first step is having a yarn with mob: our mates, mums and dads, aunties and uncles, nans and pops and our Elders.
“Take a Step understands the need to think about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing holistically, considering the ways our culture, identity, place and spirituality can make us feel strong.
“There are also resources that empower family and friends to recognise when young people are having a hard time and what can be done to support them.”
Ngarrindjeri woman Nikia Bailey, 21, was part of the headspace youth reference group that led the development of ‘Take a Step’. She said the campaign gives young people like her the tools to spot when something’s wrong and start getting back on track.
“I know this will start some important conversations in my community and will hopefully encourage more young people like me to take the first steps towards better social and emotional wellbeing,” Nikia said.
“There is still a lot of stigma about mental health in the community and that can make it difficult to ask for help.
“But I want people to understand how our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures can empower us to take care of our social and emotional wellbeing.
“When I am having a hard time, my connections with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples help me understand that I am not alone. We have a shared experience and can support one another.
“When I feel like I need some time out, I can go onto Country, which immediately gives me a sense of comfort and relief.”
headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said supporting the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people was a priority for headspace.
“headspace is proud to deliver this important message to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young peoples,” he said.
“We are dedicated to supporting young people on their social and emotional wellbeing journey. We want to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to understand what social and emotional wellbeing means and when support might be needed.
“We commend Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon. Ken Wyatt MP and the Department of Health for recognising the need for a dedicated initiative such as this and for trusting headspace to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to deliver this work.”
From today, ‘Take a Step’ television and radio advertisements will broadcast nationally and in select cinemas.
A suite of print and online resources for young people, and for family and friends with a young person in their lives, are also available from today.
‘Take a Step’ is an initiative of headspace and funded by the Department of Health and Minister for Indigenous Australians.
To learn more, visit headspace.org.au/takeastep.
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, https://www.aihw.gov.au/suicide-self-harm-monitoring/data/populations-age-groups/suicide-indigenous-australians
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