What is Live4Life?

Live4Life is a youth suicide prevention and mental health education community based model. Developed in 2009 in the Macedon Ranges in central Victoria the Live4Life model aims to:
· Increase the mental health knowledge of all year 8 and year 11 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
· Decrease stigma and build community resilience to address common mental health problems

What is Youth Live4Life Inc.?

Youth Live4Life Inc. is a registered health promotion charity. Its vision is that all rural Victorian communities have the capacity to support, improve and invest in their young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

What does Mental Health First Aid have to do with Live4Life?

Live4Life seeks to ensure that young people are receiving up to date, evidence based mental health education. In order to ensure this Live4Life have been rolling out Mental Health First Aid Australia’s Youth and Teen Mental Health First Aid courses to communities for the past seven years. Through the accreditation process of Mental Health First Aid Australia Live4Life are able to ensure community based trainers have the appropriate information and education to deliver mental health education.

Live4Life communities deliver three of the Mental Health First Aid Australia courses:

  1. Teen (years 7-9) MHFA
  2. Teen (years 10-12) MHFA
  3. Youth MHFA

For more information go to Mental Health First Aid Australia

Who are the Crew?

The Crew are a group of year 9 and 10 students from across all participating schools in a community who deliver mental health promotion activities along side the school based training. The Crew are an essential part of the Live4Life model, ensuring young people are at the centre.

How is Live4Life funded?

Live4Life is funded through philanthropic funding and community resourcing.

Where is Live4Life delivered?

Currently Live4Life is delivered in the Macedon Ranges, Benalla and the Glenelg Shire in rural Victoria.

What is the evidence that the model works?

In 2017 Youth Live4Life Inc. have engaged Orygen the Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health to undertake an evaluation of the model in Benalla and Glenelg Shires. This report will be made available in early 2018.

Live4Life Macedon Ranges have undertaken annual independent evaluations of the Live4Life model since 2011.

The evaluations have been undertaken by Dr Krystal Bowers, Clinical Psychologist, DPsych, MAPS.

Findings have included:

Year 8 students have self-reported:
· increased mental health knowledge and dispelling of myths
· increased intention to seek help from a GP or counsellor should they develop a mental health issue
· increased knowledge of strategies beneficial to maintaining good mental health.

The local school/community partnership group have reported:
· increased contact between school staff and community organisations
· increased number of school staff who felt they now knew someone they could contact directly at a local community organisation
· increased understanding of the importance of partnerships to current work practices
· increased number of young people connecting with mental health services.

The ‘Crew’ have self-reported:
· improved leadership skills
· increased confidence to seek help for mental health issues
· increased feelings of self-worth and sense of accomplishment
· increased ability to influence and share knowledge with younger students
· increased ability to ask a friend if they need help.

The parents/teachers and broader community reported:
· An increase in confidence to talk about mental health with young people
· A reduction in fear to approach, talk to and help a young person with mental health problems or suicidal ideation.

Year 11 students (research trial):
· One thousand year 10 and 11 students were trained in a pilot study conducted by Mental Health First Aid Australia. Results showed statistically significant improvements in their mental health literacy, confidence in providing Mental Health First Aid to a peer and decreased stigmatising attitudes.

It’s also worth noting that 10% of the Macedon Ranges residents are recipients of mental health education (4,500 adults and young people), through Live4Life.
Having over 10% of residents trained in mental health education has greatly assisted in building local community resilience. This has been witnessed first-hand in a number of emergency bushfire situations that have impacted the Macedon Ranges in recent years.

Not one student who has received mental health education from the Life4Life initiative has suicided.

What is Mental Health?

There are lots of different ways to describe mental health. We know that staying physically well is about staying active and eating well. Staying mentally well is just as important and needs to be cared for all through our lives! Mental health is about how we feel and identify our emotions to maintain a healthy, happy and resilient lifestyle. headspace defines mental health as:

‘being able to work and study to your full potential, cope with day-to-day life stresses, be involved in your community, and live your life in a free and satisfying way.’

Download headspace’s Mental Health Fact Sheet here or listen to ABC’s Youth Mental Health feature here.

Maintaining positive mental health is about how and what we do to in response to our feelings that may impact on our ability to lead fulfilling, active lives and partcipate in our community.

 

There are also some great tools for maintaining good mental health such as Smiling Mind.

WorkOut is another online mental health tool designed specifically for young men, developed by the Inspire Foundation and the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute.

WorkOut enables young people to tackle their thoughts and attitudes, one activity at a time.  This program aims to de-stigmatise the idea of getting help and lay the foundations of good mental health. The app will also share tips and advice from diverse role models who have achieved their goals by improving their mental fitness.

More than 80% of young men do not seek the help they need, often because of stigma or they feel asking for help is a sign of weakness. They are more likely to tough it out or may turn to alcohol and illicit drugs to mask the symptoms of depression or other mental illness

For more information visit the VicHealth’s comprehensive listing of evidence-based research on mental health here.  See also the Victorian Department of Health’s Key Concepts in Mental Health Promotion.