Batyr states that 86% of university students suffering from significant mental health issues will drop their degree and suicide is the leading cause of death in young people. A potential partnership is on the cards that could help the students of Newcastle speak out and stop those suffering in silence.

What is Batyr?

The University of Newcastle and mental health organisation Batyr have come together in what hopes to be the start of an extremely beneficial partnership. UON colleges Edwards Hall and Evatt House recently held a charity rugby match which raised money and awareness for Batyr, and proved that students are eager to see the University come together with the mental health organisation to help students in need.

Batyr was created by former ANU student Sebastian Roberts, who struggled in silence in his third year of college. The goal of Batyr is to help other students in need by partnering with universities to provide educational programs. The involvement taken by the two UON colleges was recognised and applauded by Batyr and has now provided the channel for a potential partnership.

UON College Charity Rugby Match

The rugby match was part of the ‘One Sock One Goal’ campaign, which Batyr partnerships manager Jono Peatfield says has been extremely successful and is giving a voice to a conversation that’s making a change in the community.

“The One Sock, One Goal campaign provides a platform for people to get involved in Batyr,” he said.

“The idea is that people wear a pair of socks which are brightly coloured and have the Batyr logo… and that’s showing that they’re okay not to be okay.

“They want to start a positive conversation on mental health and they’re willing to have it. So it was fantastic to see Edwards Hall and Evatt House take on the initiative and run with it.”

Edwards Hall and Evatt House had approximately 300 people attend the rugby match all of who were there to recognise the issues surrounding mental health, and to learn about Batyr and the work it does.

Tom Reddie is the former treasurer of Evatt House, and introduced the idea of an annual charity match in 2015. He says he’s extremely impressed to see college residents raising money for charity and pursuing the university to implement Batyr’s programs.

“The match being able to produce a potential partnership shows what the students at Newcastle can achieve, and I really hope the University gets on-board with Batyr and the work they want to do here”.

Batyr in Universities

Batyr has been rolling out programs through universities across the country with two well-established programs at the University of Technology in Sydney and the Australian National University in Canberra. Mr Peatfield says that results coming from places like UTS in Sydney are extremely pleasing.

“In the first 18 months we had about 4000 people who we engaged with, and we’re now looking at engaging with 10,000 people this year, which is 30% of their student body,” he said.
“If we can ensure that young people are actually having positive conversations about mental health and asking for help when they need it, then we can try and put a bit of a dent into the massive issue of suicide being the leading cause of death of young people in Australia,” Mr Peatfield said.

Batyr’s university programs involve educating people about mental health issues through taking people who’ve had a lived experience of mental health back into universities to share their stories and talk about the stigma associated with mental health.

Mr Peatfield says “examples of young people taking charge, making a difference and acting on change, are just so powerful and it’s what Batyr is driven off”.

Currently, the University of Newcastle is lacking permanent student run programs that address mental health. Batyr has proven its success with over 46,500 young people reached and 500 programs delivered.

“Our tagline is ‘giving a voice to the elephant in the room’ and I think looking at how a university deals with mental health is really important to the students,” Mr Peatfield said.

“I’d like to challenge anyone at the University of Newcastle to stick their hand up and get in touch and help make this dream a reality.”

The rugby match has shown there’s a demand from the students to see Batyr engage with the university of Newcastle. Mental health is an extremely important aspect of a student’s wellbeing and the potential partnership can bring a world of change to the students who may be suffering in silence at Newcastle.