headspace launches The Big Stigma Campaign

Startling new research has revealed the shocking role that “stigma” plays in preventing young Australians seeking help for mental health issues.

Each year, a quarter of all young people in this country will experience mental health issues, however many of them will not seek the help that they need.

New research, funded by an NHMRC Partnership Grant to the Centre for Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, and in partnership with headspace revealed that 26 per cent of young people aged 12 – 25 would not tell anyone about a personal mental health issue.

Professor Debra Rickwood, a chief investigator on the research from headspace, said it showed that 52 per cent of young people were embarrassed to discuss a mental health problem with anyone and nearly half were afraid of what others would think.

“The results also found that 22 per cent would be unlikely or very unlikely to discuss it with their family doctor,” she said

headspace CEO Chris Tanti said stigma plays a profound and significant role in stopping Australian youth from seeking help for mental health issues.

“Stigma can make it harder to ask for help and get support for mental health issues out of fear of being judged,” Mr Tanti said.  

For headspace youth advocate Charlie Cooper, 21, fear of how his loved ones would perceive him initially stopped him from seeking life-changing help.

“I struggled with anxiety for over a year before I spoke up. I worried about whether my family and friends would see me as ‘soft’, ‘incapable’ or ‘crazy’,” Charlie said.

“As soon as I spoke up, I realised it was all around me. Many of my closest friends were struggling with similar issues. It seems ridiculous now, but we really were struggling together in silence. As soon as I found the right help, my life improved dramatically, and it continues to do so every day.”

headspace Chief Medical Officer Natalie Gray said that spending time and getting to know people impacted by mental health issues, hearing their stories and understanding their experiences helps to change negative attitudes, reduce fear and social distance.

“The other is education – providing information and knowledge about mental health issues and the benefits of seeking help and seeking help early,” she said.

To combat stigma, headspace is today launching a vital National Awareness Campaign aimed at informing Australians that the more we talk openly about mental health issues, the easier it becomes for young people to seek help for them.

To kick start the campaign, headspace has constructed a Big Stigma in Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station.

From Monday 6 June – Friday 10 June, when the public visit this eye-catching structure they take a piece of the stigma away – a panel from its outer shell containing information about mental health issues and how to seek help for them.

By doing so, they will tear down the stigma, piece by piece, and keep the conversation about youth mental health alive. The more people visit, the smaller the Big Stigma gets.

The campaign will also be supported by a digital hub, launching on Tuesday 14 June, complete with a virtual stigma to tear down and links to resources and tools for friends and family seeking to support youth with mental health issues: www.thebigstigma.com.au

headspace encourages all Australians to use #thebigstigma in all forms of social media to get the conversation going, and to help tear down #thebigstigma.

The statistics:

  • 26 per cent of young people aged 12 – 25 would not tell anyone if they had a mental health problem, and 22 per cent would be unlikely/very unlikely to discuss it with their family doctor.
  • 52 per cent of young people aged 12 – 25 that have identified having a mental health problem in the last 12 months would be embarrassed to discuss the problem with anyone, and 49 per cent would be afraid of what others think.

If you are having a tough time contact headspace on 1800 650 890 or www.eheadspace.com.au

headspace operates 94 centres across Australia, for details visit www.headspace.org.au.

Young Minds Matter


Young Minds Matter, the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents Survey, is the largest national survey examining the mental health and wellbeing of Australian children and adolescents and was supported by funding from the Australian Government.

The first similar survey was conducted between 1998 and 2000 and was instrumental in identifying needs and shaping and developing Australia's support services in the key area of adolescent and child mental health.

The second survey, conducted between 2013 and 2014, involved interviews with more than 6,000 Australian families, and examined the emotional and behavioural development of children and young people aged between 4 and 17 years.

Access the full report at:


Hunter Institute of Mental Health releases Prevention First framework

Prevention First is a plain language document that provides a new national framework for strategic action to prevent mental ill-health and promote mental health and wellbeing.

It builds on existing models and policies developed here in Australia and overseas to: Define key concepts relevant to the prevention of mental ill-health and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing; Develop a new conceptual framework for prevention and promotion activity that clearly defines the differences and the full range of activity needed; Set an agenda for coordinated action and a commitment to prevention of mental ill-health and promotion of mental health and wellbeing.

Prevention First has been written for a broad audience including governments, policy makers, health and mental health workers as well as sectors that must be part of the national solution to mental health such as children’s services, education and workplaces.

See more at:





National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014

The National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014 provides a platform for the exchange of ideas to help achieve Suicide Prevention Australia’s agenda of halving suicides in Australia over the next decade. This year, the focus will be to deliver improved outcomes in suicide prevention for those working with vulnerable populations. The program will be engaging and diverse with leading researchers, practitioners and policy-makers, tempered by the voices of people with a lived experience of suicide.

National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
23-25 July 2014 at the Pan Pacific Perth Hotel

View the 2014 National Suicide Prevention Conference program here.

1 in 5 young people struggling with a mental illness

One in five young Australians are likely to be experiencing mental illness, and less than 40% are comfortable seeking professional help, according to our new report released in partnership with the Black Dog Institute.

The Youth Mental Health Report, which will be officially launched today by the NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley, also found the rate of mental illness among young Australians aged 15-19 was much higher among females and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, while young people with a disability were also overrepresented.

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said the findings highlight the increasing vulnerability of Australian youth, and the need for greater supports to help them on their journey into adulthood.

The confronting findings in this report illustrate the significant challenges many of our young people are facing when it comes to psychological distress and mental health issues. As a leading provider of services and supports for thousands of vulnerable young Australians, we know that many of our youth are struggling with complex issues, and it’s impacting on their ability to transition with confidence into adulthood.

This report makes it clear that Australian youth – particularly those facing significant disadvantage – need more support, not less. We must invest in early intervention and support to ensure vulnerable youth get the assistance they need to work through these challenges and live happy and healthy lives.Mission Australia CEO, Catherine Yeomans

The report surveyed around 15,000 young people across the country aged 15-19 using the widely accepted measure of non-specific psychological distress known as the Kessler 6, which consists of a six item scale that asks about experiences of anxiety and depressive symptoms over a period of four weeks.

The report compared young people who were classified as having a probable mental illness and those who were not.

Key findings include:

  • 21% of young people surveyed were experiencing a probable mental illness
  • Females were almost twice as likely as males to be experiencing mental illness – at 26% compared to 14%
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander respondents were also more likely to be experiencing mental illness – at 32% compared to 21% for non-Aboriginal
  • Over 60% of young people with a mental illness were not comfortable seeking information, advice or support from community agencies, online counselling and/or telephone hotlines
  • Young people with mental illness were around five times more likely to express serious concerns about depression (57% compared to 11.5%) and suicide (35.3% compared to 6.8%)
  • Young people experiencing mental distress were also more likely to be personally concerned about bullying/emotional abuse and family conflict, and were struggling with a higher number of concerns than young people who were not likely to be experiencing a mental health issue.

Download the full report here.

Reproduced from Mission Australia.

Monash University Research on Legal Risks of Social Networking Sites

This is new Victorian Research from Monash University, funded by Victoria Law Foundation, providing great insight into the perceptions of Teenagers, Parents and Teachers in relation to the Legal Risks of Social Networking Sites. Over 1000 middle school students, 204 teachers and 49 parents participated in the study.

In addition to the research Monash University has established a web site to provide additional resources aimed at schools for curriculum inclusion you can find them here:



Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing (YAW-CRC) Publications

Over the next five years the Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing (YAW-CRC) will publish new research exploring the role of technologies in young people’s lives and the opportunities to leverage these technologies to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The research can be accessed from http://www.yawcrc.org.au/publications

National Press Club address by the new YAW-CRC head

National Press Club address by the new YAW-CRC head

On 18 August the CEO of the recently established Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing (YAW-CRC) Associate Professor Jane Burns addressed the National Press Club in Canberra about ways in which technologies could be used to improve young people’s wellbeing. 

Her address outlined the rationale for the establishment of the YAW-CRC and the vital importance of supporting the mental health of young people, and stressed that Australia needs to ‘look to new solutions and think in innovative ways’ if it is to overcome the mental health epidemic among its youth. It needs to make young people part of the solution to the problem.

Following her address, an open forum discussion took place with Professor Ian Hickie (Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute), Professor Patrick McGorry (Executive Director of Orygen Youth Health), Michelle Blanchard (researcher, YAW-CRC) and Jonathan Nicholas (CEO of the Inspire Foundation).

It is heartening to see youth wellbeing issues getting high-profile coverage in an NPC address. The address is important reading for anyone working with youth. Go to the new YAW-CRC website to download a transcript: http://www.yawcrc.org.au/ This website is sure to become a valuable source of information for youth researchers and policymakers.

(Source: email from YAW-CRC, 15 August 2011.)

The case for prevention science

The case for prevention science

The most efficient and cost-effective approach to the high prevalence of social, emotional and behavioural health problems in children and young people is to prevent them from occurring, not ‘cure’ them after they occur. The challenge is in determining what to prevent and how to do so. 

A paper published in the Australian Review of Public Affairs documents the potential of prevention and argues for prevention science as a framework for advancing a coherent, evidence-based approach to address the problems of Australian children and youth. This paper examines some of the opportunities and challenges in a shift to an evidence-based prevention agenda to improve the lives of children and young people.

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) has established a Prevention Science sub-network to provide a forum for people specifically interested in the science (and art) of prevention across multiple domains to share their experience and knowledge, identify needs for further development of the field, and plan collaborative activities.

The paper can be downloaded from the Australian Policy Online website: http://www.apo.org.au/research/science-prevention-children-and-youth

More information about the ARACY Prevention Science Network is available from the ARACY website: http://www.aracy.org.au/index.cfm?pageName=prevention_science_network

(Source: APO weekly briefing, 28 July 2011.)