Spreading youth mental health awareness

By Madeleine Caccianiga

Former AFL star Lance Picioane and The Unbreakable Farmer Warren Davies visited the region yesterday, giving more than 100 youth students advice about mental health.

The Love Me Love You Foundation aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues through tailored programs in schools.

Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project, Committee for Greater Shepparton and Shepparton Education First Youth Foyer assisted to pull the event together.

‘‘Last year Lighthouse undertook a large-scale consultation called 1000 conversations and during that process we found that there was such a concern around mental health issues and in particular youth mental health issues within our region,’’ Lighthouse Project industry links and transitions co-ordinator Amy Robinson said.

She said the more awareness about mental health for young people in the community the better.

Love Me Love You Foundation chief executive officer and founder Mr Picioane said it was an opportunity to spread the word about the organisation.

‘‘Love Me Love You is a mental health awareness organisation where we go into schools and sports clubs and workplaces to deliver awareness education programs and support pathways,’’ he said.

Battling himself with depression and anxiety from a young age, Mr Picioane said mental illness took over his life.

‘‘The help that I needed to get came a lot longer after I realised what was going on — 17 years after I started experiencing my mental health issues I finally got the help that I needed and it allows me to do what I do today,’’ he said.

‘‘I thought I was the only one that was battling through these issues and I have more of an understanding now that mental health challenges are affecting and impacting more and more kids lives in our communities.’’

The workshop was an opportunity to share information, inspire and to give tangible messaging and strategies to support youth mental health issues.

Ms Robinson said organisers hoped to replicate the event again in the future.

‘‘Through our connection with Love Me Love You we hope to replicate days like today in the future,’’ she said.