The Centre for Multicultural Youth’s mental health ambassadors have been appointed and are planning their upcoming projects. Photo: SUPPLIED

Meet the youth mental health ambassadors

September 28, 2020 BY

WITH the aim of promoting positive health and wellbeing, the Centre for Multicultural Youth have appointed its youth mental health ambassadors and team members.

With teams from Ballarat, Horsham and Nhill, the project will be led by nine ambassadors and 18 members from each of the three towns.

Team leader at the Centre for Multicultural Youth in Ballarat, Shiree Pilkinton, said the initiative is a great way for staff, young people and the wider community to consider how they can improve the lives of those around them.

“It’s a very testing time and no matter of our ages, many of us are struggling at the moment,” she said.

“We wondered how we could improve the lives of young people from culturally diverse backgrounds who are experiencing mental health challenges.

“The underlying aim is to identify what the issues are in each community related to wellbeing and then working together to co-design responses to those challenges.”

Each of the town’s teams will be split up into three distinct areas; creative, social and active, with each category being led by an appointed ambassador.

With the aim of delivering genuine and long-term results, Ms Pilkinton said the projects have a clear focus on being led by the youth.

“We’re giving them structure, support and training to allow young people and their teams to identify the priority areas and what they think is most needed and valued,” she said.

“The project is delivered in a way that young people will receive it best, it’s more meaningful when it comes from other young people.

“What we know from all the work that we do and what is best practice in youth work, is that if the projects are led by young people and the content has been designed by young people, they’re more likely to have an effect.”

Psychology student Myles Medwell stepped up into the role of an ambassador for mental health within Ballarat’s active team.

Mr Medwell said he was initially drawn to the project because of the mental health aspect.

“It presented an opportunity to help and specifically because it’s a bottom up project and not run by a government organisation,” he said.

“It was inviting because it was a project that used a strategy that would bring results, and I hope it does.

“Being with other young people and tackling something that we call share as an important value is really rewarding.”

Having only just formed the regional mental health teams, Mr Medwell said his group have only just begun the early stages of planning their projects.

“We had an idea that we could get in contact with professional football teams and conduct an interview and discuss mental health issues,” he said.

“But we’re only at the ideas stage, which can actually be an invitation for other people to contribute that might not necessarily be a part of the team.

“We officially start now but it will be going until the end of next year because CMY have received funding for the project to sustain for an amount of time.”

In taking a holistic approach to tackling mental health related issues, Ms Pilkinton said the project seeks to resolve some of the roadblocks for culturally diverse communities in seeking help.

“Mental health and wellbeing challenges exist in any community but unfortunately there’s very low numbers from culturally diverse backgrounds who go to services to seek help,” she said.

“We need to look at what are these barriers, what is stopping young people from culturally diverse backgrounds from getting help.

“Through this, we should be able to learn from young people’s experiences to help and support the services.”