The program, designed and delivered by Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT), is called Stress Better. It is designed to help college students recognise the differences between worry, stress and anxiety, and to know how best to alleviate symptoms to ensure their mental wellbeing.
Statistics from the Mission Australia Youth Survey in 2014 reveal the top two issues of personal concern for young people are coping with stress, and school or study problems. Over a third (38%) were ‘extremely concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about coping with stress. Similarly, school or study problems were ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerning for 33% of those surveyed.
MIEACT Executive Officer Samantha Davidson-Fuller said the program has been developed over a number of years and aims to help young adults from all backgrounds, including those who are vulnerable and most at risk of developing a mental illness related to stress or anxiety.
“MIEACT has worked with the ACT Health Directorate to ensure this program supports young people who may be experiencing anxiety and stress from life situations that are outside their control,” she said.
“The program aims to help young adults aged between 16 and 25 years to better manage stress and anxiety by inspiring them to value their community, friends, family, hopes and aspirations, while also providing practical tools to alleviate stress and anxiety.”
The program looks at how common anxiety is and how to recognise it. It also develops an understanding of how to unpack worries and concerns in order to reduce them and offers a tool for dealing with stress. The one-hour session also includes direct positive contact with volunteers within the community who have personal experience with mental illness.
Lifeline ACT Chief Executive Officer Carrie Leeson said at the program launch: “Learning these skills from a young age strengthens families and communities, this program is fantastic.”
The Stress Better Program is being delivered throughout ACT schools and colleges (public and private) free of charge thanks to funding from The Snow Foundation. It is also being delivered into regional NSW by partners Richmond Fellowship of the ACT. ●
This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 2, 2017.