The Bass Coast and South Gippsland Live 4 Life program, which kicked off in mid 2022, has finished the year on a high. In the 7 months since it started, it has covered a range of activities that would usually take a full year. From the launch of a partnership group (which involves almost every school in the two shires and a range of services and organisations) to giving almost every year 8 student in South Gippsland and Bass Coast mental health first aid training; and everything in-between.
If you are not familiar with Live4Life, it is a sustainable evidence-based model designed specifically for rural and regional communities, which aims to improve youth mental health through developing a community wide confidence in supporting positive youth mental health.
One of the highlights has been the recruitment of a ‘Crew’ of 48 Year 9 students from across South Gippsland and Bass Coast. The Crew came together to create their own way of promoting positive mental health within their own schools. A key element of the Live4Life model, the Crew are not only improving their own mental health, but they learn how to promote positive mental health and encourage peer-to-peer support. Along the way videos were created, posters were painted, connections established and friendships blossomed.
The launch video that the Crew created was shown at all the schools in September, telling the story of Live4Life in their own words. As one student, Anabelle, said, “Live4Life for me is just being able to help and connect with other people about their experiences and mine as well… and knowing that you are not in things alone.”
Another highlight has been the training of local community members as ‘trainers’ of mental health first aid. The cost of certifying volunteer trainers is covered by Live4Life program, but in return the trainers provide their time and skills to give the mental health first aid courses free of charge – to all of our Year 8 and Year 10 students, as well as teachers, parents and the broader community.
This is key to making the Live4Life model sustainable across our Shires because mental health first aid training can cost up to $100 per person.
In moving into 2023, there will again be training for Year 8 students, but there will also be training for Year 10 students, parents, carers and adults in the community. The more awareness and knowledge we build in this area the more confident we will be as a community in tackling the very real challenges of negative mental health. These sessions will be promoted through the community, schools and on social media, so keep your eye out – and if there are adults who would be interested in becoming trainers, reach out through firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you with Georgie Lyons, the Bass Coast and South Gippsland Live4Life Program officer.
The Community Foundation is a member of the partnership group for Bass Coast and South Gippsland Live4Life. As part of the Community Foundation’s mission to build stronger communities through giving, facilitating and investing, we hope our facilitation of this program within our district will help improve not only the mental health of our young people, but our collective mental health.