The Disaster Resilience Program with headspace Central Coast

We collaborated with headspace Gosford and Lake Haven to create and deliver an innovative youth psycho-education program presented to over 5,000 young people across the Central Coast and reaching 55,000 more online.

The 2020 headspace National Youth Mental Health survey indicated 34% of young Australians were experiencing high or very high levels of distress - around 1 in 3.

In the wake of unpredictable weather events, a global pandemic and an overwhelming 24/7 news cycle youth mental health education is vitally important. How can we engage Young People in a conversation around the challenges they have lived through and ones that may come in the future? How can we walk with Young People through unpredictable times, while empowering them to build positive mental health practices?

The Disaster Resilience Program is a unique collaboration between headspace, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team (CAMHS) and Lead by Story co-designed with Young People and clinicians for this very purpose.

In early 2021 groups of students from schools across the Central Coast were engaged in co-design sessions, sharing their experience of disasters and mental health, and how they would like to see this material communicated to other Young People.

These insights were paired with input from clinical psychologists, and research from groups like Phoenix Australia and the Emerging Minds Community Trauma Toolkit to create a holistic program, involving a live presentation to deliver in schools, as well as a digital resource hub of content for Young People, their families and educators.

Initially the presentation was delivered to entire year groups in schools. These live presentations were energetic, interactive and well received by students. Schools were also supplied with high quality physical cards giving students a visual reminder of the key points plus a QR code linking to the online resource hub. Ironically, while presenting to Young People about facing unpredictable events, NSW entered an extended lockdown, and face to face presentations were unable to be delivered during this time.

The material was adapted into a digital version that could be used on-demand by educators, providing a resource that can be used now and into the future.

The whole program is now available for ongoing use, through a digital resource kit, compiled to provide schools and services with access to all the digital content, as well as tips on how to use it.

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