Youth mental health boosted by $2m+ from Bupa
Projects supporting the mental health of young Australians will be boosted by more than two million dollars from the Bupa Health Foundation.
The financial commitment will extend Bupa’s existing support for Kids Helpline by $1.375 million to grow the My Circle digital platform, where young people can connect anonymously with their peers for online group counselling, and expand the Kids Helpline@School program to reach more primary schools across Australia.
Tracy Adams, CEO of yourtown, the organisation that runs Kids Helpline, said the funding from the Bupa Health Foundation will allow Kids Helpline to extend the My Circle digital platform to support up to 10,000 young people over the next two years.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of young people connecting with others to improve their mental health.
“With My Circle, we have been able to provide a secure, modern social networking environment to young people to help them navigate challenges in their life. It’s a place where they can anonymously share their experiences, understand that they are not alone and learn how their peers have dealt with the same challenges. A qualified counsellor is available to provide extra support during all My Circles’ contacts,” Ms Adams said.
The My Circle platform was conceptualised and designed by The University of Sydney Cyberpsychology Research Group.
The additional funding will enable The University of Sydney to further evaluate the evidence-base of the My Circle platform and service and develop an innovative, cost-effective Digital Mental Health Practice Model that can be adopted by other organisations to support vulnerable groups.
Dr Andrew Campbell, Chair, Cyberpsychology Research Group, The University of Sydney, said the development of an evidence-based, mental health specific social network for young people was long overdue.
“Young people with lived experiences of mental health concerns often prefer to seek help and management using tools they’re familiar with, like social networking platforms, but need to be assured that their privacy is being protected and they are receiving qualified counsellor advice. My Circles is the first custom designed and evidence-based social network platform to achieve this,” Dr Campbell said.
Hisham El-Ansary, Bupa ANZ CEO, said this support is an extension of Bupa’s ongoing commitment to improve the mental wellbeing of Australia’s young people.
“We know this is a critical time for mental health support to the Australian community as we deal with the aftermath of the tragic bushfires and continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr El-Ansary said.
As one of the country’s largest health and care companies, we have an important role to play in improving the mental wellbeing of young people in Australia by supporting critical programs such as Kids Helpline.
“Over the past three months, contacts to Kids Helpline have increased by 29 per cent. This means young Australians are reaching out for help and we are committed to providing Kids Helpline with appropriate funding to give them the support they need.
“This latest funding is in addition to the more than $33 million the Bupa Health Foundation has invested in focused health research, including $5.4 million towards improving mental health outcomes, since 2005,” Mr El-Ansary added.
The Bupa Health Foundation will also contribute close to $800,000 to Macquarie University and Edith Cowan University for projects that target early intervention to improve the emotional wellbeing of children in schools. Read more here.
Media reference number: 20/082