Beyond Blue is today launching a major campaign to empower teenagers to take action if they are experiencing depression or anxiety, and to reduce suicide, which remains the biggest killer of young Australians.
It comes as a new survey reveals that four out of five Australian teenagers think people their age may not seek support for depression or anxiety because they’re afraid of what others will think of them.
The survey of 600 teenagers aged 13 to 17, commissioned by Beyond Blue, also found that two out of five respondents thought their peers might not seek support because they believe nothing could help them.
The new campaign, Brains can have a mind of their own, uses quirky animated ads that feature an annoying ‘brain’ character that causes young people to experience various symptoms of depression and anxiety.
These ads will be rolled out gradually on social media, websites and apps. The first ads can be viewed here. Young people who think they are experiencing the symptoms shown in the ads will be encouraged to visit www.youthbeyondblue.com, where they can complete a quiz that will assess their mental health and provide advice on the best steps to take.
Beyond Blue Chairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC said this campaign is desperately needed to break down the embarrassment that prevents too many young people from seeking support when they need it.
“It’s a shocking fact that suicide remains the biggest killer of young Australians every year. The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that in 2013, we lost 350 young people aged between 15 and 24 to suicide. This is nearly one death a day, and around double the number of young people who died as drivers or passengers in car accidents. Further research suggests that three in four mental health conditions emerge by age 24 and half emerge as early as age 14.
“Unfortunately, too many young people hesitate to speak up when they are struggling, often because they are worried how others will perceive them. This campaign aims to show teenagers that experiencing depression or anxiety doesn’t mean they are weak or weird, it simply means that their mind is giving them a hard time, but there’s something they can do about it. The information on www.youthbeyondblue.com can help young people look after their mental health or seek support if they are struggling.”
The Youth Beyond Blue site includes information on depression and anxiety, along with a range of other issues young people have to deal with like drugs and alcohol, body image, bullying and cyberbullying and self-harm. The site also has links to interactive resources like the BRAVE Program, a free online program that helps young people manage anxiety or protect themselves against it, and the Check In App, a mobile app that guides young people on how to reach out to friends they are concerned about.
Mr Kennett said parents can play an important role in protecting the mental health of their teenage children.
“Parents also need to be aware of the signs of depression and anxiety, and be ready to step in to lend a hand if their child is psychologically distressed. The Beyond Blue website has helpful information for parents, like Beyond Blue's Parents Guide and the recently released Family guide to youth suicide prevention,” he said.
“Being a teenager is challenging enough without having to struggle with mental health issues. It’s important for young people (and those around them) to consider their mental health, because having good mental health will make it easier for them to get on with growing up and be resilient as they navigate life into adulthood.”