The concern around mental health continues to grow with one in four young Australians currently battling a mental health condition. This is equivalent to 750,000 young people across the country.

Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Week – an opportunity to promote awareness around mental health and well-being, and equip people with the right information.     

Good mental health is fundamental to a person’s physical health and overall quality of life. For young people who are still developing socially, emotionally and physically, the development of a mental health problem or disorder can disrupt and seriously impede their social development, education, family relationships and vocational path.

In 2013, the UN’s Department of Economics and Social Affairs produced a report on the challenges faced by young people with mental health conditions.

The report includes suggestions on how to address the stigma surrounding mental health and argues the need for more opportunities for young people to engage with others through development programmes and social inclusion activities.

“Well-coordinated, comprehensive programmes are necessary to prevent mental-health conditions, as well as to aid youth who already have mental health conditions.”

The report also highlights “building skills relates to the promotion of competencies to facilitate the transition process for youth with mental-health conditions from dependent to independent living. Life skills, social-emotional competencies and social skills, coupled with cognitive and occupational skills, are instrumental for the successful transition to adulthood and social integration.”

The Award’s Impact

The Duke of Ed Award provides a sound framework for both mental and physical health education and promotes a balanced healthy lifestyle.

Through the Award, young people are provided with the opportunity to develop skills in areas such as confidence, communication, managing feelings and relationships.  

By building these practical and social skills, young people develop a greater sense of self-worth, adopt more of an “I can” attitude and become more resilient when faced with challenges.  

As part of an ongoing commitment, participants completing their Award are engaging in physical exercise, learning a new skill and contributing to their community for at least three hours per week*. Whether its yoga classes, learning a musical instrument or helping out at their local op shop they are regularly involved in social situations and introduced to new people with common interests.

A life saved

The Award positively impacts the lives of individuals who have felt isolated and lacked confidence by providing a strong support network. For Abbey, Duke of Ed provided her with a nurturing environment to help her tackle bullying and low self-esteem. Her mother shared,

 “Abbey has encountered different forms of bullying, the hardest being isolation and self-doubt. Duke of Ed has taught Abbey that what you put out there will get back tenfold: kindness, love, understanding, commitment and determination are just a few of her achievements. Abbey is now much stronger and able to talk to her peers about her journey with enthusiasm and passion. She is no longer quiet and shy. I thank God every day that Abbey got involved with Duke of Ed because I truly believe it was one of the main things that saved her.”

Improved health and well-being is just one of the ways we measure the Award’s impact. We also assess how it improves educational attainment, social inclusion, gender equality improved employability and sustainable livelihoods. Read more about the Award’s impact here.

*For more information on Award levels and time requirements click here.

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