On Monday 28 May, YMCA WA and YMCA VIC hosted the first Youth Summit. It is the first initiative of its kind and was designed to open up conversation with young people to debate ways of preventing mental illness rather than treating it.
A variety of youth workers from YMCA WA, Youth Focus and Mission Australia were in attendance, along with a delegation of young people, parents and special guests Brant Garvey, paralympian athlete & Paris Mitchell, motivational speaker.
The morning session, held in YMCA HQ, Leederville, was a selection of very powerful presentations, live linked between Victoria and Western Australia and live in Leederville, from young people talking about their experiences with mental illness and their personal journeys.
In the afternoon, facilitated by Simon Hammond of the Be Council, attendees workshopped the question ‘In a time of unprecedented mental health concern for young people, how can we help more young people avoid the pain of mental illness in the first place?’.
Attendees broke into groups to discuss their thoughts and then Simon opened the debate. Recommendations from the groups, and most importantly young people, were then recorded and will be presented to policy makers as recommendations.
“As a young person myself, and a representative of YMCA WA, I felt it essential to hear the voice of young people around the massive issue of mental illness and wellbeing. The afternoon brainstorm session was great to see what young people and youth services believe is most important in tackling youth mental health issues.
“We hope the recommendations, which will be drawn up from the Youth Summit, help policy makers hear what young people think and want” said Tia Sandhu, YMCA Youth Project Coordinator & Global Change Agent.
One of the recommendations from the Youth Summit is to ban mobile phones from schools - which is in line with leading child psychologist, Michael Carr-Gregg, who, earlier this week, called for smartphones to be banned from primary schools following shocking stats of one in seven primary school kids and one in four high school kids suffer a mental health issue due to smartphone use.