Did you know that the presence of wellbeing is just as important to a young person's mental health, as the absence of mental illness?

Research

Recently, a team of researchers from Monash University and the University of Melbourne conducted a research study into the impact of Reach’s youth-led workshops on the mental health and wellbeing of young participants.

This research found that Reach workshops improved the wellbeing of young people, by significantly enhancing their feelings of meaning and engagement.

This has been shown to be instrumental in reducing the incidence of adolescent mental illness, and optimising a young person’s ability to thrive.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Because we know that mental illness is the biggest health challenge facing young people today – affecting 1 in 4 young Australians per year – improving the wellbeing of young people is critical.

It’s suggested that wellbeing, described as a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health, is as important to mental health as the absence of mental illness.

DID YOU KNOW?

Engagement: characterised by feeling completely immersed in what one is doing so time is distorted, attention focussed on a task and self-consciousness is minimised.

Meaning:  incorporates qualities like ‘living in accordance with your personal values’ and ‘having clear goals that align with these values’. Living a meaningful life can also refer to having a higher purpose.

Vella-Brodrick, D. A., Rickard, N. S. & Chin, T-C. (April 2013), Evaluation of youth-led programs run by The Reach Foundation, Monash University, VIC, Australia.

SIGNIFICANT FINDINGS
  • Reach participants experienced improved wellbeing at both a psychological and deeper biological level, with some of these effects sustained for up to six months after a workshop.
  • Reach participants reported an increased use of two positive strategies explored in Reach’s workshops. These strategies were ‘expressing gratitude’ and ‘sharing experiences in response to personal negative events’.
  • Reach participants said they connected and related well with the young crew – because they speak honestly and openly about their own journey and challenges.
MAJOR LEARNINGS

The study identified a number of improvements for Reach to consider:

  • Introducing a more tailored approach to supporting the wellbeing needs of students and schools.
  • Refining and adding to the crew training curriculum.
  • Enhancing and extending the workshop experience.

These findings has resulted in the following two actions:

  1. Development of an smartphone app for young people.
  2. Enhancements to Reach's Leadership Development program to ensure professional skills training for crew.

Publications

BUILDING THE SCAFFOLDING: STRENGTHENING SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN VICTORIA - VCOSS & YACVIC

Building The Scaffolding

While most young Victorians do well, many face challenges as they move from childhood to adulthood, including homelessness, mental health issues, family violence, abuse and neglect, drug and alcohol issues and involvement in the criminal justice system.

Providing support for young people can be likened to ‘scaffolding’ — support that is available to young people as they develop their own capacities.

This report looks at the role that community sector and government organisations play in reinforcing this scaffolding and considers how supports can be further strengthened to promote better outcomes for all young Victorians.

Read report

THE WELLBEING OF YOUNG AUSTRALIANS - AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH ALLIANCE FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH (ARACY)

ARACY

This report card is shaped around the voices of children and youth, engaged through a national consultation of over 3700 people to hear their hopes, needs and desires. This consultation, along with the views of those working in the child and youth sectors, established a framework for measuring wellbeing among children and youth, known as Key Result Areas (KRAs).

This report card provides a set of baseline indicators for each KRA – indicators that are strongly guided by the realities of ‘what wellbeing looks like’ for children and youth. The indicators provide a point-in-time snapshot of child and youth wellbeing in Australia, including how Aboriginal (Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander) young people are faring.

Read report

MISSION AUSTRALIA YOUTH SURVEY 2012 - MISSION AUSTRALIA

Mission Aust Youth Survey 2012

In 2012, Mission Australia conducted its 11th annual survey of young people. As with past years, the survey aimed to identify both the values and issues of concern to young people.

15,351 young Australians aged 15-19 years participated in the survey.  Topics covered included participation in education and employment, participation in community activities, subjective health and wellbeing, values and concerns, sources of information, advice and support, as well as feelings about the future.

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THE CASE FOR MENTAL HEALTH REFORM IN AUSTRALIA: A REVIEW OF EXPENDITURE AND SYSTEM DESIGN - MEDIBANK & NOUS GROUP

The Case For Mental Health Reform

Mental illness is a significant and growing challenge for Australia.

This report calculates total direct expenditure, both health and non-health, on supporting people with mental illness in Australia and examines the limited available knowledge of system-wide outcomes that this funding supports.

It notes that, despite the significant policy attention and substantial additional funding to mental health over the past two decades, the mental health and social services systems remain fragmented.

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SUCCESSFUL SCHOOLING: TECHNIQUES & TOOLS FOR RUNNING A SCHOOL TO HELP STUDENTS FROM DISADVANTAGED & LOW SOCIO-ECONOMIC BACKGROUNDS SUCCEED - EFFECTIVE PHILANTHROPY

Sucessful Schooling

The Successful Schooling Toolkit is a practical ‘how to’ guide to assist schools and teachers to engage students from disadvantaged and non-English speaking backgrounds and help them to learn.

The approaches described in the toolkit can help all students.  It explains what the most effective schools do on a day to day basis to engage students and help them to learn and provides handy tools so that schools and teachers can apply those practices themselves.

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ENGAGING TO LEARN

REACH SUBMISSION TO THE REVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN CURRICULUM

The Federal Government has commissioned a review of the Australian School Curriculum to improve student outcomes. As an expert in positive youth development, The Reach Foundation is pleased to respond to the invitation and provide a submission to the review.

The terms of reference of the review focus on the curriculum for English, mathematics, science, history and geography. However, to successfully improve student outcomes, the school curriculum also requires an investment in students’ social and emotional wellbeing capabilities.

The rationale for this investment is threefold:

  • Students do better academically when combined with wellbeing - empirical evidence demonstrates that wellbeing is essential to successful student engagement and positive learning outcomes;
  • One size curriculum approach will not fit all - the mixed demography and pathology of the general student cohort means that one size will not fit all. Targeted and specialist interventions and strategies are necessary to address social, health and economic issues;
  • Programs exist that deliver the required results - Reach’s 20 years’ experience of working with over 500,000 young Australians has taught us how to increase student engagement with learning and school through improving their social and emotional wellbeing. This experience is shared and validated by many other programs. For example, a US meta-analysis of school based wellbeing interventions which spanned 270,000 students over several decades, concluded that even a short program “enhanced students’ behavioural adjustment … and improved academic performance on achievement tests and grades” for a minimum of 6 months after the program (Durlack et al, Child Development, 2011 vol 82).

Download Full Submission

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