Stu­dents ini­ti­ate Stand With Us

Con­cern over men­tal health is­sues in young

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - VIC­TO­RIA NUGENT vic­to­ria.nugent@news.com.au

STU­DENTS at Townsville’s largest Catholic school have started an an­nual men­tal health day to ad­dress ris­ing youth sui­cide rates.

Ryan Catholic Col­lege will hold its first ever Stand With Us day to­mor­row, af­ter se­nior stu­dents Bob Hart and Corey Kranz came up with the idea in re­sponse to in­creas­ing men­tal health prob­lems among young peo­ple.

Work­ing with other Year 12 stu­dents, the boys have or­gan­ised to run a pro­gram at the school to­mor­row for men­tal health char­ity LIVIN while com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions will hold a lunchtime expo to de­liver men­tal health in­for­ma­tion and re­sources.

Corey, 17, said they came up with the idea af­ter hear­ing about a teenager within the Townsville rugby com­mu­nity who took his own life ear­lier this year.

“One of our friends was in a dark place and we wanted to do some­thing with­out jump­ing out and directly say­ing his name,” he said.

“We fig­ured it would help a lot of other peo­ple who aren’t nec­es­sar­ily vo­cal about it.

“I think it’s more com­mon than it should be.

“It’s sort of hid­den from the public’s view.”

Corey said the stigma sur­round­ing sui­cide made it harder on the friends who were left be­hind.

“As the school year changes, we’d like to see more young peo­ple get in­volved ... to make it a more com­mon thing to talk about rather than hide be­hind closed doors,” he said.

“We hope that it’ll make it easier for peo­ple to talk about men­tal health in a way that it nor­malises it.”

Bob, 18, said his sis­ter had ex­pe­ri­enced men­tal health is­sues.

“Grow­ing up with that, it’s hard on you,” he said.

“It’s good to get it out there be­cause it’s not re­ally spo­ken about.”

Stu­dents have also or­gan­ised fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to raise money for fu­ture guest speak­ers, in­clud­ing sell­ing rib­bons – green to sym­bol­ise men­tal health and yel­low for sui­cide.

School psy­chol­o­gist Tracy Blan­chard said the Year 12 stu­dent group had re­ally taken own­er­ship of the day.

“They’re see­ing this hap­pen in their own com­mu­nity and they want to be able to sup­port each other,” she said.

“The staff have sup­ported them, but they’ve or­gan­ised most of it them­selves.”

Pic­ture: ZAK SIMMONDS

ORGANISERS: Ryan Catholic Col­lege stu­dents Bob Hart, 18, and Corey Kranz, 17.

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