Mental health program for students, run by students at UoN

At least one in four university students will experience mental health ill-health in any one year and a program at the University of Newcastle (UoN) is hoping to turn that around.

Batyr is a preventative mental health program run by students who organise events at the university to give other students the skills they need to get through the tough times, provide a listening ear and help to find further support for those who need it.

Batyr@uni started at UoN in March last year and involves six students who volunteer on an executive team running events on campus with Batyr@UoN.

This week, the Greater Charitable Foundation jumped on board with the program giving them $220,000 so they can continue running the program in Newcastle for another two years.

Dr Hannah Brown, the batyr Program Coordinator for the University of Newcastle, said that batyr@uni aims to educate and empower students through their mental health and wellbeing initiatives and increases their knowledge of the diverse avenues of support available to them in the university community.

“Through sharing lived experience stories and peer-to-peer education, batyr is keeping young people from reaching the point of crisis and changing lives.

“We want to make sure young people know they can get help and support to deal with the issues they are facing before those critical moments.

Dr Brown said the program is gaining popularity with the applications for the student executive committee growing from from ten last year to up to 30 this year.

Marlena Wagner is on the student executive committee this year and said she wanted to be a part of it since listening to one of Batyr’s programs during a lecture.

“I loved it straight away. I really enjoyed it particularly because they used a lived-experience story teller and it really made an impact on me.

“I think what I’ve really noticed and what surprises me every time is that people are really open to actually talk about it [mental health] when the presence is there which is why I think Batyr is so important because its that vocal, physical presence on campus.

“People don’t really hold back and I think that’s really great,

“University students are unfortunately really uniquely positioned to experience poor mental health. University is such a transition period coming from that construct of high school and family and you suddenly have all of these pressures and I think all of that causes a lot of stress and often that demand you have on yourself is too much to cope with.

Kane Predebon is also on the executive and said he’s always been passionate about mental health so this was an opportunity for him to make a positive impact.

“I think its something that is very poorly talked about and understood particularly with young people and as a university student myself, I’ve spoken to university students who have not taken the opportunity to express their mental health when they could have.

“It’s for young people by young people which really resonated with me.”

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