#Chatstarter program launched to support youth mental health

A family group exercising and enjoying the simple things during their lockdown exercise. Photo by Marian Sampson.


AS families struggle to fill days and complete home schooling, there is new support for young people living under stress.

For many getting out and enjoying simpler things while exercising is one circuit breaker.

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With one in three 18-34 year olds reporting high or very high stress levels in the last year, the need for help and support is greater than ever.

Young people can access services from Beyond Blue and Lifeline and now there is a national ‘#Chatstarter’ program.

#Chatstarter connects, engages, and promotes the benefits of supportive conversations with young people and children who are going through a difficult time right now.

According to the Australian National Mental Health Commission website, “2020 was difficult, however 2021 is proving to be even more difficult and is having a significant impact on the mental health of our children, young people, and their parents.

“Australia has entered a new wave of uncertainty with some states in lockdown and increased restrictions across the country.

“This has resulted in sustained high or very high levels of distress with increasing demand on mental health service provision.

“The evidence shows that this has increased mental distress and mental health challenges in the community and exacerbated the severity of symptoms for children and young people living with a mental illness, with a direct impact on those who care for them.

“To help build self-confidence, and to increase self-agency and help-seeking among children, young people, and their parents, #Chatstarter was developed by the National Mental Health Commission in partnership with parents and young people who have experience of mental health challenges, and Australia’s national mental health organisations who specialise in supporting children, young people and parents – ReachOut, Butterfly Foundation, Orygen, batyr, headspace, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline.”

#Chatstarter recognises just how critical conversations are in identifying when someone is going through a difficult time before they reach crisis point and connecting them to the right type of care.

There are a number of great programs and resources encouraging chats and conversations about mental health in different ways.

Chatstarter recognises that talking may not necessarily be the best way to ‘start a conversation’.

Sometimes engaging in fun, creative, and productive activities together can transcend barriers to conversation, build trust and help create safe spaces for people to talk about how they’re feeling, and the kind of support they need.

To access Chatstarter go to https://www.headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support/chatstarter.



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