Bright Minds = Bright Future

Gemma and Izzy from the Bright Minds project team.

The Bright Minds Project has enlightened the local region of Lake Macquarie on youth mental illness and how to get onboard and take a progressive approach for the young local population.

Community Activities Lake Maquarie (CALM) received a $10,000 grant from the Innovation for Community Impact (I4CI) program, coming from various donors, to kick start the Bright Minds Project.

Youth Mental Health is an issue that affects every community member in some way, with one in four young people experiencing a mental illness and 75% of all adult mental illness beginning in the teenage years.

The Bright Minds Project started in March 2015 and last year alone, the results have been nothing short of amazing.  Taking the approach that the project should be run by youth for youth, the young participants have undertaken critical work that will have a lasting impact on the community well into the future:

  • Distributed over 2,000 information sheets at the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Careers Expo.
  • Created four posters with positive messaging which are now visible in 18 high schools, additional youth services and six bus shelters.
  • Completed and distributed a Teacher Reference Guide to 1,000 high school teachers. 
  • Facilitated the Lake Macquarie Youth Mental Health Forum, with 100 students from 11 schools in attendance.
  • Developed and distributed a Parent Information Brochure to 2,000 families.
  • Distributed 3,000 magnets with a series of messages on how to seek support for mental illness.
  • Nominated for a NSW Youth Work Award for the NSW Youth-led Project of the Year.

The Bright Minds Project has also received fantastic media coverage, including ABC Newcastle Radio, and on the local NBN television station covering both the Teachers Reference Guide and the student Mental Health Forum.

But it hasn’t stopped there. 2016 is proving to be another big year for the Bright Minds Project.

  • January -  Splash Down, over 1,000 people attended a stress free water play event at the Lake Macquarie Australia Day Festival and enjoyed a laugh and getting outdoors.
  • April – Presenting an interactive forum at a local high school. This is the pilot of a sustainability element that will see the Bright Minds Project continue by providing presentations to young people about mental health and its associated issues.
  • April – The NSW Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People Showcase. Bright Minds Project, with two other youth driven projects, has been selected to present to senior leaders and those working with children and young people.

Bradley Dunn, Youth Development Officer, CALM, has been leading the Bright Minds Project.  He said; “Without the support of FRRR, we would not have been able to accomplish what we have achieve this far. The funding provided has certainly changed the landscape of youth mental health in Lake Macquarie and has gone a long way to combating the stigma that surrounds it.”

This has been a well run project with a clear vision and the results truly speak for themselves. Congratulations to everyone involved in the Bright Minds Project!

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