When young people experience poor mental health or have suicide ideation, it is likely that they will tell their friends before they tell an adult. Peers are often the first to see that their friends are not doing well. They may see a change in behaviour or mood that teachers and parents don’t so readily pick up on. Empowering peers to understand and then have conversations with friends about their mental health is a crucial element in helping young people seek the necessary help and support they need.
The Mental Health Matters video series developed by PLC Sydney in consultation with Nic Newling, a public speaker and advocate for mental health and suicide prevention, is one way to teach young people the skills and knowledge they need to support their peers who are going through mental health challenges.
Peer support plays a pivotal role in promoting mental well-being. Young people frequently turn to friends for understanding and empathy, creating a crucial network for emotional support. Peer connections offer a safe space to share struggles, reducing feelings of isolation and fostering a sense of belonging. The exchange of experiences can provide valuable perspectives and coping strategies. Encouraging open communication within peer groups empowers individuals to address mental health concerns proactively.
The video project drew on experts in the mental health and well-being fields to cover such topics as: effective treatments for mental health issues, the impact of academic stress on mental health, the impact of family dynamics on mental health, the role friends can play in supporting friends through mental health challenges, how to take care of yourself when supporting a friend and the very important topic of suicide prevention and managing suicide ideation.
The video resources include important student voices and real-life conversations that students may have with each other around supporting a friend with mental health challenges. The video presents some of the possible choices that young people have to support their friends, as well as advice from our experts and important tips to remember.
Our expert panel consisted of:
Linda is currently Acting Principal of PLC Sydney and also heads our dedicated well-being team in the Senior School.