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.