More than 900 local students trained in youth mental health program


Last year, more than 900 students in the Murrumbidgee participated in a youth mental health program to build their tools for positive mental health and resilience as well as prevent suicide, thanks to the LifeSpan Murrumbidgee initiative led by Murrumbidgee PHN.

The Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM), an evidence-based mental health program for students, has been rolled out for Year 9 students across 21 local schools. The program specifically addresses mental health issues, self-harm and suicidality.

MPHN CEO Melissa Neal said early intervention plays an important role in providing better outcomes for students and hoped more schools would engage with the program in 2019.

“We know that across the Murrumbidgee region, just over a quarter of all young people aged between five and 17 years, will be living with a diagnosed mental health issue. We also know that across Australia 70 per cent of mental illness and suicidal behaviours begin between the ages of 12 and 25,” Ms Neal said.

“These statistics mean it’s important we provide evidence-based programs to address early intervention strategies to support young people’s wellbeing and mental health and the class room can be a positive and safe environment to start.

“The Lifespan Murrumbidgee YAM program, delivered in partnership with the Department of Education and local headspace centres, provides relevant information and build resilience through discussion and role play to get young people involved and talking about mental health. By doing this, young people will learn problem solving skills and gain knowledge about mental health.

“Feedback from students and schools has been positive and we are looking forward to rolling YAM out in 2019,” she said.

MPHN Suicide Prevention Manager Jenna Roberts said the YAM program engages with young people in a relatable way.

“Through role play and discussions in a classroom setting, the program teaches students how to resolve issues commonly experienced by young people, including mental health issues, bullying and suicidality,” Ms Roberts said.

“Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and we all have a role to play and I would like to extend our thanks to the volunteer YAM helpers, without your contribution we would not have been able to run this life saving program,” she said.

Learn more about the YAM initiative at or follow the Murrumbidgee Lifespan page on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’d like to talk to anyone about the issues raised in this article call Lifeline on 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800.

Debbie Angel