HYPE Baw Baw, Headspace’s new group focused on youth leadership, development, empowerment and events, has been busy engaging with the community for Mental Health Week.
Above: HYPE Youth Team committee members Alex Ionascu and Zanzii Bowers with Headspace Central West Gippsland Youth Programs Team Leader Bonnie Healey.
This article was first published in the 10 October 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy now for even more news and entertainment.
Starting with a launch event for both the HYPE Team itself and Mental Health Week called Lift Off at the Warragul Skate Park on Sunday, the group has been involved in a number of activities during the week, including a presentation to Baw Baw councillors about youth issues on Wednesday.
Mental Health Week has seen an increase in people contacting Headspace Central West Gippsland, which the HYPE Team has been keen to take advantage of.
“We’ve seen steady numbers come through. We’ve had a couple of general enquiries and people just seeking more information, which is always fantastic,” Team Leader of Youth Programs Bonnie Healey of Headspace Central West Gippsland told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“It’s people just wanting to know more about what’s out there and lots of people from the wider community, not just young people, wanting to know more about youth issues.
“We had lots of engagement at the Lift Off event.”
HYPE committee member Zanzii Bowers of Warragul said the program was about giving young people a voice.
“HYPE is basically the young people giving the young people a voice,” she said.
“We put on what they want. It’s not necessarily what we want, but [directed by] the feedback we get.
“For example Lift Off didn’t exactly have the best turn-out in the world, so hopefully it gives us more of an insight into what we can do for upcoming events.”
Zanzii said there were three key focuses of the group.
“There’s the FReeZA component, so we put on the events, the Youth Reference Group, and also youth leadership and inclusion.
Ms Healey said the group was trying hard to engage with the community.
“The HYPE youth team is a team of young people who have come together and decided they actually want to run events,” she said.
“They want youth opportunities, they want to showcase young people in Baw Baw, and they’re really, really active.”
“They’re out there talking to the councillors… about what’s happening for young people in the area. The councillors responded really really well to that.”
“We see it as a bit of a responsibility to highlight things to the councillors that are coming up for young people. It’s actually the youth organising a lot of these programs, I’m kind of the admin.”
Alex Ionascu of Drouin, also a member of the HYPE committee, said the group was well placed to talk about local issues with councillors and youth.
“What better way to know what young people want than to actually have young people on the committee?” He said.
“I think it’s a very smart thing to do.”
Stigma dropping through talking
Ms Healey said the positive environment of Mental Health Week was helping people to seek help and discuss mental health issues and responses.
“People are definitely coming in seeking more information,” she said.
“I think it’s the coverage Mental Health Week’s had just in the local newspapers, radio, the ABC, and I think people are more interested because of that. It has become less stigmatised.”
“Mental Health Week always is a really busy week for us and it’s great that the message is getting out to the community about mental health, not necessarily mental illness, but keeping your mind healthy and things like that.”
Zanzii said awareness of the importance of good mental health was also improving.
“Awareness is going up a lot because it is popping up a lot more with modern technology keeping everyone inside, so everyone’s just becoming more aware of mental health and mental health issues,” she said.
“It’s tips for a healthy head space,” Ms Healey added.
“What can you do? Go and take the dog for a walk, go outside and kick around in the garden, play your guitar.
“It’s about looking after your head space and making sure you’re in a good space to operate so you can work, go to school and operate.
“So yeah, we love Mental Health Week.”
The group is planning to improve its reach through partnerships with sporting clubs, religious groups, Committee for Gippsland and the Young Farmers Federation, in addition to existing partnerships with groups including the YMCA, Baw Baw Shire, local bands, schools and the West Gippsland Arts Centre.
The partnerships with the Arts Centre and local bands will soon be very visible; Zanzii has been heavily involved in organising the Rad-Ur-Day all-ages concert which will be held at the West Gippsland Arts Centre on 25 October. A number of Gippsland-based artists including Crimson Drones and Secret Academy have been named as participating.
Zanzii said she and other members of HYPE were keen to have more young people between the ages of 15 and 25 join the committee.
“Anyone’s welcome to join,” she said.
“We’ve got about 12 members at the moment and we’re just hoping to expand.
“If you want to come down to Headspace Warragul and sign up, you can.”
The committee meets at the Headspace Warragul building on Queen Street.
HYPE Baw Baw has funding support until 31 December.
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