A new community sport-based initiative, currently being piloted in Kangaroo Island, South Australia, aims to allow young men and women to take control of their own mental health education and resilience.
Minderoo Foundation is working with men’s health charity Movember and ALIVE to promote mental wellbeing and prevent suicide among young Australians affected by natural disasters.
As part of this community sports-based initiative, Movember’s Ahead of the Game (AOTG) program provides mental health literacy and resilience training for adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years.
This evidence-based mental fitness and resilience program teaches young players, parents and coaches how to spot the signs of poor mental health, how to talk about mental health problems and how and when to seek help. The AOTG face to face training is then supported by a 6 module online resilience program which enables young players to develop long term skills for dealing with life’s challenges.
A unique part of this pilot initiative is to also provide young players with additional long-term support via youth suicide prevention organisation ALIVE’s Get Real Institute Life Hacks. This learning series allows young people to take control of their own mental health education, a crucial element required for communities to build disaster resilience. The Life Hacks course is supported by local community leaders who have been through ALIVE’s ‘Train the Trainer’ course, allowing them to support the adolescents on their mental health journey.
Kangaroo Island was identified by Minderoo Foundation’s ground operations team as a key area to provide mental health support to equip young adults with the knowledge and skills to cope and thrive in the longer term. The ground operations team provided temporary accommodation to people who lost their homes following the Black Summer bushfires.
One of the hardest hit areas from the Black Summer bushfire crisis, 50 per cent (211,000 hectares) of Kangaroo Island burned and the delayed effect of the disaster has been devastating on the mental health of the island’s inhabitants.
Minderoo Foundation and Movember will work together to pilot the initiative in four other bushfire-affected communities. Subject to the results, they will develop a collaborative investment plan to scale the program across Australia’s 50 most vulnerable communities.
Published results for Movember Ahead of the Game have demonstrated increased wellbeing and a significant reduction in psychological distress following program completion.
It is hoped a wider-spread rollout of AOTG will create more resilient communities, in which adolescents are empowered to support one another in the face of natural disasters. The program will help Minderoo in its quest to bring Australia’s 50 most vulnerable communities on par with its 50 most resilient by 2025.