[email protected] program in high demand among students at Universities across Australia
Our partner, batyr, has experienced significant demand for their mental health support program, [email protected], from local and international students studying in Australia in the last 18 months.
With our funding support, over 2,200 students have participated in one of their programs, which can largely be attributed to the unique set of challenges they’ve faced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with international students particularly impacted.
[email protected] program participant and international student, Linh, said it’s common for international students to find it challenging living in Australia while they navigate a new life, culture and language.
“I came to Australia in 2018 for university and I was excited and motivated, but also intimidated at first. I think for me and many international students, navigating a new culture and health system while being distant from our loved ones is probably the biggest challenge.
There is also this pressure of having to do well to ‘hold up our end of the bargain’, given that our parents have given up a lot for us to be here,” Linh said.
Linh, said she first came across batyr after her mental health began to worsen during the lockdown period in Melbourne last year.
“I felt alone and didn’t have anyone to reach out to, and it was very hard to recognise and admit that I was going through some mental health struggles. This was partly due to the cultural stigma that I grew up with in Vietnam, which I’ve heard from many of my peers.”
“That’s when I came across batyr on social media. I went along to one of their workshops and later on to the [email protected] program. While my mental health is still up and down, batyr’s program has helped me to find people that I’m comfortable being vulnerable with and who I can reach out to when I need help,” she said.
To support students like Linh throughout the pandemic, we provided $110,000 in funding to deliver 30 [email protected] programs for international students, and an additional eight programs across the wider cohort at Universities across NSW, QLD, VIC and ACT.
The series of online and in-person programs were there to provide an avenue of support for students struggling during the pandemic, help them to connect with like-minded people, and provide the resources they need to manage their mental health every day.
Training up a community of advocates, like Linh, with a lived experience of mental ill-health who can share their stories in a safe and impactful way is also a core part of the program and our funding support. By doing this, batyr aims to educate and normalise conversations about mental health among students
“[email protected] has made me realise the value of reaching out and having a supportive network of people around me. It also drives me in my learning to play my part in supporting others on their journey, here in Australia and hopefully one day back home in Vietnam,” Linh said.
batyr’s efforts of co-designing the [email protected] program alongside international students and tailoring the program to address their unique experiences has been crucial to its success and highlights the effectiveness of their approach to mental health prevention.
For example, following the delivery of the 30x [email protected] programs, 76% of international students indicated they’re more likely to seek help as a result of the program. Linh was one of these students.
“My mental health is something I still need to work on every day with the help of those around me who I can trust will hold me accountable for my own wellbeing.
Reflecting on where my journey with mental health began, I wish I had access to programs like [email protected] earlier. It has made me realise the value of reaching out and having a supportive network of people around me.
It also drives me in my learning to play my part in supporting others on their journey, here in Australia and hopefully one day back home in Vietnam,” Linh said.