NATIONAL youth mental health foundation headspace is encouraging 16 to 25 year olds with their own experience of mental ill-health to contact the headspace Youth National Reference Group (hY NRG).
Every year headspace provides early intervention care to more than 100,000 young people who need support for their mental health, physical health, work and study goals and use of alcohol and other drugs.
Psychology student Hugh Flanagan, 23, of Arthurs Seat, is one of 20 hY NRG members who has spent the past two years advocating for the mental health and wellbeing needs of young Australians.
“A key part of the role is providing a young person’s perspective on the services headspace offers the community. By sharing my story with the organisation, and with the public, I am advocating for the needs of young people who are experiencing mental health and wellbeing challenges,” Flanagan says.
“By contributing to the development of resources and campaigns, ensuring services are safe and appropriate, and speaking to headspace staff about my lived experiences, I feel like I’m really making a difference.
“Headspace values and respect the voice of young people, and is always trying to evolve to keep up with the changing needs of young people.”
Now completing an Honours in Psychology at Monash University, Flanagan believes his time in hY NRG has shaped both his personal and professional development.
“Working in hY NRG has really changed my perspective. Meeting people across Australia with different experiences of mental health has really broadened my world view,” he said.
“Working with an organisation like headspace has encouraged me to seek out a career in the public health sector. I’m looking forward to helping shape the bigger picture of mental health care in Australia.
“You can also learn so much more than what you’re taught at high school and university. Being in hY NRG has given me experience working with mental health professionals and the practical skills it takes to succeed in the workplace.”
Headspace CEO Jason Trethowan says young people, their families and their friends are engaged at all levels at headspace to help ensure the organisation understands the needs and experiences of young people.
Coming from all over Australia and from diverse backgrounds, hY NRG members participate and collaborate with headspace to ensure young people provide input into its services.
“Through participation, we recognise that young people, their family and friends are the experts about their own lives and have the right to be actively engaged in the issues that affect them,” Trethowan said.
“Engagement starts at the headspace centre, with local reference groups advising services and supporting community engagement.
“At headspace national, we facilitate several avenues for participation in different areas of our work, including the headspace Youth National Reference Group (hY NRG), which is made up of a diverse group of 20 young Australians with lived experience of mental ill-health.
Apply for the headspace hY NRG program at headspace.org.au/our-organisation/our-people/reference-groups/youth-national-reference-group/apply/