Youth Connectors

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A Connector is a Friend.

The Act-Belong-Commit Youth Connectors program engages young people (‘Connectors’) between the ages of 16 and 25 in the Act-Belong-Commit principles for good mental health, upskilling them to be able to assist and encourage peers to engage in mentally healthy activities.

As a peer-based mental health initiative, the Youth Connectors Program aims to:

  • Increase awareness of and encourage young Western Australians to adopt mentally healthy behaviours
  • Increase resilience amongst youth aged 16 to 25 in both regional and metro areas of WA
  • Increase awareness of mental health to encompass wellbeing, de-stigmatise mental illness, and encourage help-seeking behaviour
  • Increase participation in mentally healthy activities.

The Youth Connectors program was developed with funding from an Australian Health Promotion Association graduate scholarship and in consultation with 35 young Western Australians across regional and metro areas.

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Young people interested in becoming a Youth Connector are invited to attend a fun, interactive two-hour workshop in their local town, where they meet like-minded individuals and participate in educational and interactive activities.

The workshop aims to increase their knowledge on how to keep mentally healthy, as well as boost their confidence in how to encourage and support their friends and community.

As well as benefiting their own mental health, ‘Connectors’ become a local source of information on community activities and encourage others to engage in activities that build resilience and nurture their mental health.

Post-workshop, we provide Youth Connectors with a suite of resources. They are also invited to join a private Facebook Community, where they can continue the conversation, reach out for advice and support, access opportunities, information and resources, participate in mentally healthy activities and challenges, and build their networks. We also provide them with additional training in the form of webinars and Facebook-live video.

“The most useful part of the workshop is the support network that is opened up to a person as a youth connector. We can talk to other youth connectors, we have access to resources to encourage people to seek professional advice and help, as well as defining that 'I am not a doctor, I am a friend.”

– Workshop participant, June 2016

Impact

A recent evaluation of the Youth Connectors Program shows it is making an impact in changing the way young people think – and talk - about mental health

Since launching the program in 2017, we have trained over 286 passionate young people between the ages of 16 to 25 to be ‘Connectors’ for their metro and regional communities across Western Australia.

We have also facilitated workshops within eight partner schools, two alternative education programs, three Universities, various youth groups and Youth Advisory Councils.

Our evaluation data shows that the program is significantly increasing young people’s confidence in:

  • Applying the Act-Belong-Commit message to their own mental health
  • Explaining the value of acting, belonging, committing to others
  • Talking to other people about being mentally healthy, mental health and mental illness
  • Helping others to be more involved in mentally healthy activities.

In 2017, one of our Youth Connectors won the Youth category in the 2017 Mental Health Week Awards.

To find out more about the Youth Connectors program, or how you can become more mentally healthy, contact Youth Connectors Program Coordinator Darci Miller on (08) 9266 9791 or darci.miller@curtin.edu.au.


[1]   Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2007. Young Australians: their health and Wellbeing (Cat. no. PHE 87).Canberra: AIHW. Retrieved from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10451

[2]Mission Australia Youth Survey Report 2017, pg.24, accessed at https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/what-we-do/research-evaluation/youth-survey