Baw Baw Big Blokes – Big Boost for Youth Mental Health

Baw Baw Shire is about to get a significant boost in mental health first aid instructors thanks to the generous support from Baw Baw Big Blokes.

School and agency representatives have recently undergone training to become accredited teen mental health first aid instructors. It is just one of the components of the rural youth mental health and suicide prevention initiative called Live4Life.

Live4Life is an award winning, unique, evidence-based youth mental health and suicide prevention initiative that began in the Macedon Ranges and is now operating in six rural shires across Victoria. Live4Life builds young people’s capacity to recognise and seek help for mental health concerns and builds the capacity of the whole community to look after and support their young people.

The Live4Life model that aims to:

  • Increase the mental health knowledge of all year 8 and year 10 students;
  • Increase the mental health knowledge of teachers, parents and carers;
  • Reduce barriers to seeking help for emerging or current mental health issues in young people;
  • Increase awareness of local professional help; and
  • Decrease stigma and build community resilience to address common mental health problems.

A dedicated and committed community partnership group, led by Latrobe Regional Hospital, and includes Baw Baw Shire Council, Department of Education, Baw Baw Latrobe Local Learning and Employment Network, Communities That Care and all Secondary Colleges across the entire community of Baw Baw has been working tirelessly since 2019 to bring Live4Life to Baw Baw.

“The Live4Life model is instrumental in building the capacity of our community to respond to mental health concerns and LRH is committed to leading this work with our partners to ensure the mental health of our young people is supported.”

“We are so impressed with the Baw Baw community and in particular the generosity of Baw Baw Big Blokes,” said Bernard Galbally CEO of Youth Live4Life. “Live4Life is led by young people but it involves everybody in the community – parents, teachers, health professionals, sporting coaches and community leaders. The most impressive thing about the program is that it is genuinely grassroots.”

Live4Life has been successfully established in Macedon Ranges, Benalla and Glenelg where it has increased rates of help-seeking amongst young people. Gate-keeper adult participants are also more confident and competent to support young people with mental health issues.

An independent evaluation of Live4Life found that nine in ten students who had been involved in Live4Life were having conversations with others about mental health which indicates that Live4Life can drive conversations about mental health amongst young people and their families.

Further 76% of students would tell an adult about a crisis situation in comparison to 59% prior to Live4Life. Plus, 82% of adults were more confident to respond to a young person with a mental health need, in comparison to 32% before Live4Life training.

The evaluation revealed that in a few circumstances, Live4Life had been attributed with saving a life.

Students in year 8 and 10 will receive mental health education to teach them what to look out for in terms of a developing mental health problem, how to assist a friend and connect to a responsible and trusted adult.

Live4Life also educates teachers, parents, carers and the broader community in Youth Mental Health First Aid, increasing the capacity of the local community to be aware and to be able to better support young people who might be experiencing mental health issues or a mental health crisis.

To deliver these mental health education sessions annually to almost 2000 students requires a concentrated effort and is resource intensive.

Baw Baw Big Blokes have very generously agreed to fund the delivery of Teen Mental Health First Aid Instructor Training to a team of dedicated and experienced members of the Baw Baw community to champion this work. This team of newly trained instructors will commence delivery of this mental health education this school term.

Baw Baw Big Blokes Barbeque vice president Andrew Schreyer said, “the mental health of young people in our community has been a focus for the Baw Baw Big Blokes Barbeque for some years. We’ve funded mental health first aid training in local secondary schools in recent years and the opportunity to fund the Live4Life initiative was one we grabbed with both hands. We wish the program every success and trust it will help lead to improved mental health in young people locally. Ultimately we believe the program will save lives,” said Andrew.

Youth Live4life Community Engagement Coordinator, Ms. Annie Rowland will provide support to the Live4Life Baw Baw Partnership Group throughout the implementation phase.

“My role really is to walk alongside the implementation of all components of the model and support the Baw Baw community every step of the way.”

“The mental health of our young people is paramount. Live4Life has had a positive impact on other regional communities and we are so pleased that we can now bring Live4Life to Baw Baw Shire,” said Mayor of Baw Baw Shire, Councillor Danny Goss.

Awards

2018 Vic Health’s Improving Mental Wellbeing Award

2018 Youth Affairs Council of Victoria’s Rural Award for Most Innovative Rural Youth Program.

2017 Macedon Ranges Live4Life was awarded the national LiFE Award in Community Development (Organisation) at the National Suicide Prevention Conference.

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