MAINZ contribution to youth mental health

The Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand has played a critical role in the development of a new youth resource which tackles the subject of mental illness stigma and discrimination. The Foundation Music and Audio tutors stepped into roles as mental health promoters as the first teaching staff in NZ to run these activities. Conversations for Change is a set of five downloadable activities designed to be used by teachers, youth workers and others working with groups of 15-24-year olds. It aims to encourage young people to reach out for support and to look out for each other while “myth-busting” ideas around mental illness. A development version of the resource was used as a pilot with the Foundation class in February of this year, while tutors ran activities designed to encourage empathy and critical thinking about the area of mental distress.

 “What I found interesting [about the resource] is accepting and supporting and respecting others on who they are and whatever culture they come from.”  responded one student participant. “I was surprised to find the students responded to it as mature young adults,” adds Foundation tutor Harry Champion, “I think it's a credit to the resource and activities that they stayed focussed and contributed maturely.”

Mental Health Promotion Lead at Mind and Body Consultants, Sheree Veysey, says “I was a past student of MAINZ, and absolutely experienced acceptance and support regarding my mental health from the tutors there, which was one reason we approached the organisation. It was such a gift to us that staff were willing to put in the time and step outside the familiar to contribute to this work.” Feedback from the pilot led to concrete changes in the resource, including adding a worksheet and clarifying facilitator guides.  

“With our high suicide and self-harm rates and the multiple pressures on young people, it is critical that we start resourcing those working with young people in these conversations. We need to be talking with them about distress, reaching out for help and being inclusive and supportive of each other.” Sheree comments.

Conversations for Change is designed so community members can run the resource without having specific mental health training. Critical thinking skills aim to help dismantle ideas which can get in the way of supporting others or reaching out for help. Facilitator videos and the comprehensive guides steer discussions toward thinking about the impact and origin of different attitudes toward mental distress and encouraging empathy.

In recognition of the MAINZ contribution, a koauau named Rongoa Puoro carved by South Auckland carver Brody Runga was presented to MAINZ. “We are just so grateful for their contribution. We all have family, workmates, neighbours who have experienced mental health issues, whether we know it or not. It’s important that we acknowledge how common and human it is to have struggles with our mental health, while encouraging people to reach out for support.” says Sheree.

Conversations for Change has now been launched in its final form and Change incorporates a range of multimedia, including a play script and audio stories. It is available for free download at rethink.org.nz/Conversationsforchange

Contact:
Sheree Veysey (Mental Health Promotion Lead)
021 225 35 97 sheree@mindandbody.co.nz
rethink.org.nz

Suicide education message

  • Having passing thoughts of suicide is a really common human experience. If these thoughts start to linger or are very strong, they are our body and mind telling us that we need to get some support.
  • When the type of support is a good fit for the individual, they can feel better. Often they can feel better surprisingly quickly.
  • Thoughts of suicide are not something that a young person should deal with on their own, or only with the support of friends.