Orygen has today launched the Orygen Global Youth Mental Health Advocacy Fellowship. In partnership with the Institute for Climate and Peace, and United for Global Mental Health (UnitedGMH), the six-month program is designed to build the capacity, skills and voices of young leaders from around the world to create positive change in mental health awareness, policy and systems within their communities.
The fellowship is an online program that will work with 10 candidates aged 17-30 who are passionate about youth mental health and have a desire to create long-term change in the mental health landscape within their communities.
The program will combine professional insights and education from leading global mental health organisations and networks, individual development and mentorship with industry leaders, and advocacy training from those who have practiced advocacy at a local, national and international level.
Maddison O’Gradey-Lee, Orygen Global youth consultant, said the Orygen Global Youth Mental Health Advocacy Fellowship aims to build the capacity and networks for youth mental health advocates around the globe.
“We decided to develop the fellowship as we kept seeing the same narrative - young people were doing amazing advocacy but they didn’t feel supported or connected into those larger networks and we want to change that, Ms O’Gradey-Lee said.
The program will help fellows build a network of mental health youth advocates to provide peer support and sustain advocacy efforts beyond the reaches of the six-month program.
Nataya Branjerdporn, Orygen Global youth consultant, said young people need to be setting and shaping the agenda, not just invited to the table.
“The Orygen Global Youth Advocacy Fellowship would help to equip like-minded young people to pioneer for better mental health care in their own communities, Ms Branjerdporn said.
“When I started speaking about my mental health story, I didn’t really know what I was doing or how to approach it. If I had, maybe I would have gotten more email replies. I can see how the Orygen Global Youth Advocacy Fellowship could be a game-changer for young people to work out where they want and need to be in their advocacy journeys.”
Craig Hodges, Director of Orygen Global, said the fellowship would build on existing international collaborations and partnerships, such as Orygen’s ongoing partnership with the World Economic Forum, which saw the development of a global framework for youth mental health and global youth mental health advocacy toolkit.
“There has never been a more important time to advocate for services and supports for young people experiencing mental ill-health. COVID-19 has further exacerbated the mental health and social isolation many young people experience. Young people as strong mental health advocates is critical as they have the collective knowledge and wisdom to bring about change,” Mr Hodges said.
The Orygen Global Youth Mental Health Advocacy Fellowship is being led by Orygen, Australia’s centre of excellence in youth mental health, which is expanding its global impact.