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Looking out for your mates

Monday October 9, 2006

Australian Red Cross and beyondblue: the national depression initiative are embarking on an innovative trial program to help young people deal with depression and related issues.

The two major organisations made the announcement today to mark the beginning of Mental Health Week.

The Talk-Out-Loud program will train 200 young people in New South Wales and South Australia in peer education skills and knowledge around mental health issues, adding to the already successful training that the Australian Red Cross Save-a-Mate program delivers on managing drug and alcohol problems.

Although peer education has been widely used to respond to a range of health concerns including drug and alcohol issues, it has not been used extensively in Australia to address mental health problems.

Research shows there is often a strong link between mental health and substance use in young people, however it's only in recent times that the issues are being addressed holistically.

According to a recent National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre report, nine out of the ten major health burdens affecting young Australian men are either drug and alcohol or mental health related. In the case of young women, the figure is eight out of ten.

'Our experience backs up research which shows young people are likely to turn to each other first when dealing with these sort of problems and it is vital that they are better equipped to help their mates' said Australian Red Cross CEO, Robert Tickner.

'We are delighted to be joining beyondblue to address burgeoning health concerns facing young people. It will provide a unique opportunity to help young people help each other and themselves,' Mr Tickner said.

beyondblue CEO, Leonie Young said: 'By targeting young people early we can prevent some of these problems from occurring. We aim to help young Australians understand the core issues associated with drugs, alcohol and depression, and how they're linked.'

'Help is available and beyondblue's youth website and our info line - 1300 22 4636 are important contacts.'

The trial will be conducted initially in NSW and SA and is being evaluated by the Hunter Institute for Mental Health. Results will be available early 2007.