The Batyr Rural Outreach Program has very quickly proven to be an outstanding success in providing mental health support in Cobar.
It was started in Cobar as a pilot program two years ago and has worked at creating an environment where talking about mental health is encouraged and supported.
Batyr’s school coordinator Dom Greenwood and CEO Sam Refshauge, along with Batyr ambassador and former Cobar resident Brett Robinson, were in Cobar last week for a community engagement session to update the public on the program.
Dom said Batyr staff were very proud they had been able to reach out to more than 36,000 young people across Australia and help them to start the conversation about mental health in their communities.
He said that the success of the Cobar program had been very inspirational for them.
“We’ve conducted four Batyr@school programs reaching 150 people at Cobar High School and also in Teacher Professional Development.
“We’ve helped to set up the batyr@school chapter EIR (the Elephant in the Room) which is student driven to create mental health changes,” Mr Greenwood said.
He said the statistics collected from Cobar are very promising with 69 per cent of students saying that after hearing the Batyr information they would be more likely to seek help for a mental illness while 81 per cent they were “very engaged” with the information presented in the Batyr program.
“In Australia, 20 per cent is the national average of people likely to seek help for a mental illness.
“In regional areas that figure is lower and in rural areas it’s even lower still,” Dom said.
During the past two years of the program, Batyr has held two Being Herd workshops, which aim to train young people aged 18 to 30 to publically speak about their personal experience with mental health and be an example to others.
“Six young people in Cobar last year did the training which was a great response,” Dom said.
“We want to create safe, engaging conversations about mental health, not just in schools but in everyday life to help smash the stigma of mental health.”