“Participating in this event helped me see where my fellow peers sit in terms of different things that impact us in our teenage lives. Seeing the amount of people across the country who are thinking about the same things I am is encouraging and empowering” said a year 12 student from last year’s Generation Next Student Wellbeing Program.

It’s one of many positive views from the young people who participated in a program designed to empower teens to become advocates for mental health and wellbeing within their peer groups, families, schools and the wider community.

“The material was engaging and relevant” says one teacher “a great opportunity for our children to listen to people of such expertise in our own setting” says another.

Perhaps the greatest testament to the program is the already 25,000 students who have been signed up for this year.

In 2018, Mental Health was unanimously rated as the top issue across all Australian states and territories for the first time in the 17 year history of the Mission Australia Youth Survey. Of the 28,286 young people surveyed, the top 4 personal issues included mental health, coping with stress, school or study problems and body image.

Generation Next is providing a free resource for young people and school communities in the form of two live webcasts in March to tackle some of the issues of most concern to our youth.

Kicking off on International Women’s Day, our line up of inspiring women begins with Sarah Alderton, founder and lead educator of The Selfie Project.

In Sarah’s session, students will learn they are more than their selfie by taking a look at influencer culture and the concept of posting for likes, learning how to escape the comparison trap and how to avoid social media FOMO.

Of the 38.8% of young people that indicated the existence of barriers to finding work in the 2018 Mission Australia Youth Survey, a lack of skills/experience was ranked as the top barrier.

Named in the Top 50 Public Sector Women 2018, City of Canterbury Bankstown Cultural and Inclusion Officer Turkan Aksoy has expertise in employment skills development and heads Youth StepUP, a resource dedicated to increase awareness about educational and training opportunities for youth from all backgrounds and provide a cultural bridge into the Australian labour market.

Turkan’s session will equip students with the skills and confidence needed to feel job ready and overcome obstacles to reach their potential.

Dr Gill Hicks AM MBE is known globally as a survivor of the London Terrorist Bombings 2005 and is the founder of not-for-profit M.A.D for Peace, a platform that connects people globally and encourages us to think of peace as a verb.

Gill, considered one of the most thought provoking and powerful speakers in Australia and internationally, will be delivering a session about overcoming adversity and building resilience.

Gill’s session will inspire students as they are taken through a powerful story of change and transformation.

Isabel Fox is the Student Initiatives Coordinator and program lead for the ‘Playing Right’ program at Charles Sturt University. An adaptation of the program, this session will convey the importance of effective communication, honesty and respect for both reducing the prevalence of sexual harassment and encouraging young people to build healthy, positive relationships.

Encompassing consent, body autonomy and managing personal safety, this discussion will educate students about the importance of communication and body language and how to keep themselves and their peers safe.

Child and adolescent clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller will chair the day. Students will also be treated to performances by youth poets, showcasing creativity, the power of words and how spoken word poetry can provide a positive outlet to convey ideas, views and express emotion.

With such a strong line up of engaging experts and a selection of important and relevant topics, this year of mental health and wellbeing education is set to inspire and empower thousands of young people.

By increasing mental health literacy, providing peer support skills and strategies to look after their wellbeing, as well as raising awareness of supports available, the Generation Next Student & Youth Wellbeing Program goes a long way towards contributing to preventing mental illness in young people and enabling them to better support others who are experiencing mental ill-health.

It is all of our responsibility to build a resilient and mentally healthy generation, and we hope as many people as possible will join us on this important journey.

Learn more about Generation Next’s Student & Youth Wellbeing Programs, happening March 8 and 15, 2019.

Generation Next also provides professional education through our The Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People not for profit seminars. The single day events are perfect for professionals looking for quality professional development as well as those who support young people.