The Black Dog Institute’s partner Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT) have won 2020’s major mental health award for delivering the Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) program to 2,300 students.
Presented at schools in five one-hour sessions across three weeks by accredited instructors, YAM connects people with a lived experience of mental health to classrooms of year nine students for discussion of stress, crisis, depression and suicidality in a non-judgmental way.
During these sessions, mental health is explored through role play, presentations, discussion and an information booklet for each young person to keep.
MIEACT CEO Heidi Prowse said the program had faced enormous barriers since its trial began in January, especially due to COVID, but the team had worked incredibly hard to push on and deliver the service.
“We’ve learned a lot about the program’s delivery since it began,” Ms Prowse said.
“The program is modelled on a UK model with strong evidence of great outcomes.”
YAM is funded until December 2021 when the program will be formally evaluated.
MIEACT also took away two individual awards for volunteer educators.
Merici College participated in the YAM program and Principal Loretta Wholley received a high commendation for her participation in wellbeing consultations and forums which led to the implementation of YAM at Merici, along with previous work facilitating an Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing expo in October 2019.
The expo was open to parents from eight Catholic secondary schools and featured a panel of guest speakers and booths of service providers.
Ms Wholley said the expo was aimed at introducing parents to the resources available to them.
“If something happens on the weekend, parents need to learn what to do,” she said.