Interviews with Canberra principals

Over a few weeks, the Youth Media Team met with the principals of three Canberra high schools – Merici College, St Clare’s College, and Canberra High School.

We decided on a set of questions to ask the schools, focusing on the mental health support available, the schools’ approach to and relationship with mental health, and the types of issues students raise in schools. These questions included ‘How does [this school] provide support to students seeking help with mental health?’, ‘what is the best way to get students listening and talking about mental health?’ and ‘ideally, how would [your school] work with outside services?’.

Before we started these interviews, we discussed what our aim would be, and concluded that we wanted to know what schools were doing to support students struggling from mental health issues, and their relationships with outside services. We had anticipated different answers for each school, and as we predicted the responses varied greatly.

The principals and their deputies seemed eager to interact with outside services that would help their students, which we were very glad to see. They were also remarkably well-informed about students who were struggling, and were able to actively discuss the actions that were being taken, as well as the best ways to help students. Overall, principals and their vice-principals are well informed about their students, and know how to effectively help them.

Interview with Mr Phil Beecher, Canberra High School


Interview with Mr Paul Carroll and Ms Bridget Bandle, St Clare’s College


Interview with ______, Merici College


Mental Health Support in School


The Youth Media Team are a group of five enthusiastic individuals who are passionate about social justice and equal opportunity. With education inequity being the primary focus, we identified several issues that can affect a young person’s schooling:

  • LGBT+
  • Homelessness
  • Refugees
  • Young carers
  • Domestic violence
  • Involvement in the justice system

While all of these issues are of great importance, they all have one thing in common: each issue has an impact on an individual’s mental health. With that in mind, the team decided that mental health would be the primary area of focus for the duration of the project, and this allowed us to begin to think about which services to interview, and other actions we could potentially take.

The key areas of focus that the Youth Media Team identified were:

  1. Reduce the stigma associated with mental health
  2. Ensure teachers are trained to educate and support students around mental health
  3. Provide accessible mental health supports for students
  4. Ensure schools have a solid relationship with outside services
  5. Provide support to teachers
  6. Include mental health in the curriculum

Of these, messages 1, 3, and 4 were recognised to be primary areas of focus.

The Youth Media Team identified that stigma associated with mental health is an extremely prevalent issue within today’s society. The members of the Youth Media Team have either personally experienced mental illness or know someone who has, and recognise that it is one of the biggest barriers when it comes to students seeking help for mental health.

Accessible mental health support within schools is vital. When one member of the team identified that “our counsellor’s office is at the back of the dodgy carpark”, the team realised that this was a bigger issue than we had first thought. We explored this topic in our interviews with school principals.We also found that at first glance, there is some difficulty with linking schools with outside services. However, when interviewing these services, we found that this was not always the case.

We look forward to sharing the content we have created,  showcasing the work that schools and community services are doing to support young people and their mental health.



Interviews with Canberra services

Over the course of a few weeks, the Youth Media Team met with four Canberra-based mental health organisations – Menslink, Bungee, headspace Canberra, and Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT).

For the most part, the idea of meeting with organisations was to help us grasp the extent to which they engage with schools and the types of issues that they encounter along the way. We were also curious to see how managing mental health issues – or at least talking about them – can be approached.

We arranged a set of questions to ask the organisations, which were based around how they dealt with mental health issues, how they developed strong relationships with those seeking help, and how the services deal with schools. These questions included, ‘what are the issues that young people raise with you [when seeking help]?’ ‘how do you develop and maintain good relationships with young people who access your services?’ and ‘in your ideal world, how would you deal with [schools]?’.

When we began these interviews, we wanted to know what the organisations were doing to actively help young people in the community. We were anticipating similar answers from each organisation to some of our questions, given that they all deal with schools, but otherwise had very few expectations.

We were surprised to learn that most challenges were merely administrative, and there were few issues with the students or schools themselves. Additionally, we were pleased to learn about the many different programs each organisation has to offer, and how they all focus on different ways of dealing with mental illnesses – from a very hands-on approach of talking about problems to using art as self-expression, each service has designed their programs to be the most beneficial they can be in order to help young people.

Interview with Bungee


The Bungee Youth Resilience Program is an early intervention program helping children and young people from ages 5 to 18. The program uses an arts-based approach to connect with young people. Read more

Interview with headspace Canberra


headspace provides early to moderate intervention to young people aged 12-25. The organisation deals with most mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Read more

Interview with Menslink

IMG_7005Menslink is an organisation that supports young men in Canberra from ages 12-25 – because, as Martin told us, ‘guys find it harder to talk or seek help.’ Read more

Interview with Mental Illness Education ACT


Interview with headspace Canberra


On 25 November 2015, two representatives from the Youth Media Team – Isabel and Lizzie – met with Seija from headspace Canberra and asked her a few questions about the service and her experience of working in schools.

About headspace

headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, provides early to moderate intervention to young people aged 12-25. The organisation deals with most mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Support can be found through three different avenues – headspace centres, eheadspace, or school support.

headspace centres can be found all across Australia, both in urban and rural areas. The centres are designed to help young people with both mental and physical health, and provide access to various types of health workers, from general practitioners to psychologists.

eheadspace is intended for people who don’t have a nearby headspace centre or prefer to do it more anonymously – the online service works to provide confidential support to anyone who accesses the site, and allows people to chat with others who are experiencing similar things. The school support initiative works in schools for help respond to and recover from events of suicide.

headspace also runs a Youth Early Psychosis program, which deals with early intervention and aims to improve the lives of people dealing with psychosis, and programs dealing with alcohol and drugs. This service is dedicated to helping support people who are struggling from all types of health issues, and expresses a genuine desire to help young people recover from bad places, no matter how small or trivial the problem seems to be.


Interview with Bungee


On 3 November 2015, the Youth Media Team met with Susan from the Bungee Youth Resilience Program and asked her a few questions about the program and her experience of working in schools.

1. How did you personally get involved with Bungee and why?

Susan: I had always wanted to be an art teacher, not only because I love art and making art, but also because I strongly believe in the therapeutic value of art and what it can teach us about life. I heard about a job going in Bungee as the program assistant which involved being an art tutor. I was lucky enough to win the job five years ago and now I am the Coordinator and a qualified high school art teacher and I love teaching art in the Bungee program.

2. What are the issues for young people involved with Bungee? What issues do they raise with you?

Susan: Many of the children and young people have mild to moderate mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Some have been bullied at school or are facing challenges in their home life. We have a specific program for managing anxiety so young people talk about their anxiety in a group setting. In our Individual Support Program, children and young people usually talk quite openly with our counsellors about their issues and the challenges they are facing. We encourage students to talk about any issues they have and if we can’t resolve them, we suggest other services they can access.

3. How do you develop and maintain good relationships with young people who access your service?

Susan: Our tutors create safe, welcoming, supportive and positive environments for Bungee participants. We take an interest in each individual and this helps to build trust and respect and ultimately strengthen relationships between participants and tutors. We encourage all our participants in their creative pursuits and offer choice in how the participants can express themselves creatively.

4. What is the best way to get young people listening and talking about mental health?

Susan: We nurture relationships built on trust and respect, in order to be able to embark on conversations around mental health. The great thing about arts classes( drama, circus, visual arts, music) is that they provide alternative ways for young people to express their issues regarding mental health. This is the essence of the Bungee program.

5. Why is stigma such a huge issue?

Susan: Stigma is a very complex matter and I really cannot answer that question in a paragraph or a whole page! The more we educate young people and primary school aged kids about mental health issues, the better chances of reducing stigma. It’s going to take a long time to change the way people feel about mental health issues. In our Cool Kids program, kids between the ages of 9 and 12 openly discuss their anxiety in a safe and secure group setting. This is a great way to reduce stigma.

6. Do you have other programs to address issues besides mental health?

Susan: No, we don’t. Bungee is specifically an early intervention program for children and young people experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues. Other issues may come up, however, and we are happy to discuss whatever issues the students wish to discuss.

7. How many schools do you work with? Do you want to or have the capacity to work with more?

Susan: For 8 or 9 weeks of each school term, Bungee runs weekly programs in three schools in Belconnen/Northside and at three schools in Tuggeranong.

8. What are the challenges in engaging with schools?

Susan: Communication. Making time to enable Bungee staff to visit schools more often, to see Bungee in action, meet students and the school contact, and provide support to our tutors.

9. In your ideal world, how would you like your service to work with schools?

Susan: I think it would be good to run our three programs in just one school each term, so we could get to know students and build better relationships with staff and students and get a feeling for the school culture.

About Bungee

The Bungee Youth Resilience Program, an initiative of Belconnen Community Service, is an early intervention program helping children and young people from ages 5 to 18. The program uses an arts-based approach to connect with young people, from painting to making jewellery, and provides therapeutic support as well.

Bungee works mainly in primary schools and community centres in Tuggeranong and Belconnen, and is designed to aid children who are at risk of or are developing mental health issues. Bungee is based in a school for either a term or semester, running sessions that allow them to converse with and counsel both the school and the children alike. They run a few different programs – after school classes, ‘Worry Busters’, the in-school programs, and support for both individuals and parents.

The after-school classes are based in the Belconnen Community Centre and the Tuggeranong Child and Family Centre, and include Art and Craft classes, Drama, and Youth Art – each has a designated age group. The ‘Worry Busters’ program is for children aged 9-12 and aims to help children (and their parents) to manage anxiety problems, trying to develop social skills and boost self-confidence. The in-school programs consist of activities in small groups, which build social behaviour and involve teachers.

Bungee also provides counselling for children and young people, and involves aspects of their other programs – arts and other creative activities. Bungee’s varied programs are intended to support children who may be experiencing the early stages of mental health issues, using simple methods of creative expression to develop relationships with their clients and invite them to fully interact with the service.

For more information or to get involved with Bungee, contact Belconnen Community Service on 02 6264 0242 or 02 6264 0241. Their website information is currently being updated.


Interview with Menslink


On 3 November 2015, the Youth Media Team met with Martin from Menslink and asked him a few questions about the organisation and his experience of working in schools.

About Menslink

It is a well-known fact that boys aren’t good at talking about feelings. Often, they receive the ‘don’t be such a girl’ treatment, and as a result are forced into an environment in which mental health issues may arise.

Menslink is an organisation that supports young men in Canberra from ages 12-25 – because, as Martin told us, ‘guys find it harder to talk or seek help.’ They have three programs currently in use: ‘Silence is Deadly’, counselling services, and mentoring.

The ‘Silence is Deadly’ program works in conjunction with sporting teams – the Brumbies and the Raiders – to encourage young men to talk about their problems and ask for help, rather than containing their emotions. Their counselling service is run by counsellors (not psychologists), who provide support and someone to talk to, as well as potential solutions to any problems occurring in a young man’s life.

Finally, the mentoring program is for adolescents aged 13-18. It provides the young men with someone outside their family who is reliable and won’t judge them – someone to talk to, ask questions of, and spend some time with. The Menslink services are designed to be casual, personal, and supportive – ultimately, they are a group of people helping young men make the difficult transition into adulthood.


Meet the Youth Media Team


Say hello to the Youth Media Team of 2015. These five faces are behind the words, filming and editing of our interviews with services and principals about mental health supports in school.


I’m a blogger, activist, music lover and general internet addict. I’m a passionate vegan, as I often remind my friends and I enjoy nothing more than an angry rant on Tumblr.

I first heard about the Youth Media Team when one of my teachers emailed me excitedly, and then proceeded to nag me for weeks until I’d applied. I was so, so excited about this opportunity and even more thrilled when I was invited to be a part of the team. Social activism and working in the not-for-profit sector is something that I’ve been longing to do, and this position was the perfect way to start my career.

One of the main areas that I focus on in my activism is mental health. As one of the one in five young people living with a mental illness, I realise the impact that a mental health condition can have on a person’s education and social life. I decided to turn a dark period in my life into something that myself and others can learn from, and I hope that I can continue doing this in the future.

I am incredibly passionate about all things social justice, as well as animal rights and the environment.

In my ideal world, students would have access to quality support services, and be able to learn in a safe, judgement free environment, where everyone is equal, regardless of gender, sexual preference, race, ethnicity or religion.


I am thrilled to be given the chance to be with a team that deals with such crucial, relevant and too often ignored issues, affecting so many people’s lives today. Being part of the Youth Media Team means that I am able to do what I am passionate about while getting involved and giving back to the community.

Mental health is something that has always been interesting to me and I have always known that when I ‘grew up’ I was going to help other people.  Having strong connections within the mental health system has given me a sense of purpose in helping out other in situations of need. Being directly affected by mental health issues and knowing others who have also suffered means that I am very passionate to spread awareness of the importance of mental health.

I am a passionate youth activist, advocating at both a local and national level and hope to lead a career of advocacy in the future. In my ideal world students would feel safe in their school environment and would always have a service they could access within the school that they feel both welcome and listened too in.


My name is Isabel and I am a digital media and political fanatic. I also love music and will hardly ever be seen without headphones in my ears.

I have been doing photography for five years and have been to Japan with photography. I love taking photos of life and things and people interacting. I also enjoy creating sureal images that make you need to look twice.

I have arguably been studying politics since childhood. Growing up in a house  where we watch question time like clockwork when we’re home. I’m extremely interested in government and how we work out how we run our society.

I am also very passionate about mental heath issues and rights as they effect me and the people that I care about. I have depression, anxiety and paranoia and have first hand experienced the stigma and gone through school with a mental health issues.

When I heard about the Youth Media Team project I thought that it was a fantastic way to mesh my different interests in a way that can help people. I am also passionate about gender equality and women’s rights particularly in regards to pay and representation. In my ideal world people would feel safe with seeking assistance with their problems and people would not be discriminated on.


I joined the Youth Media Team because it seemed to be a good way to learn more about youth issues and meet with other young people who are passionate about the same issues that I am.

Mental health, one of these, is such a prevalent problem in today’s society – so many people are affected by it, and often they have limited support available. One other issue that I am very interested in and concerned with is equality, on a very broad scale – it is very important to me that everyone be treated the same way.

In my ideal world, students would be supported at school for their mental health very carefully and personally – everyone should have at least one person that they can talk to about anything and everything, especially about how they are feeling.


I’m a Year 11 student, who has many interests, including drama, music, art and media. I developed a passion for social justice throughout my years at school.

Over the last few years, participating in debates, community radio stations as a broadcaster and several other community events, I have further developed my passion for youth issues. In particular, I’m passionate about mental health, the reality of which has been brought forth due to its wide prevalence amongst school students.

When the opportunity to join the Youth Coalition came up, I was eager to get involved so that I could share my passion with other members of the community. I use personal tribulations in regards to mental health as motivation to help and educate others, and the Youth Coalition served as a fantastic organisation and platform to help others do the same.