Innovation of mental health & wellness education
Designed to educate youth with mental health & wellness topics
Why Mental Health?
Mental illness is thought to be an underlying factor in about 90% of all youth suicides, which is the leading cause of youth death in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated between 2004-2006 there was an average of 266 deaths per year attributed to suicide among people aged 15-24 years, accounting for 20% of deaths in this age group. One of the defining factors for better mental health outcomes for youth is to encourage them to seek help early. The stigma of mental illness held by young people and a lack of awareness can both be barriers to early intervention. Our communities need to look at taking a different approach when educating and engaging young people around topics of youth mental health. We need to take responsibility and educate ourselves and our young people to be more aware of mental health issues, seek help early and continue to reduce the numbers of young people that die by suicide! Mind Blank helps produce a more creative outlet as a solution to this problem.
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Mind Blank is recognised Australia wide for mental health awareness & education through delivering innovative programs in schools, communities, and workplaces. We advocate a holistic and balanced approach through strategic partnerships and collaborations.
We Aim To:
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Blog Spot: Richochet
05 Dec 2016 Blog Spot: Richochet
He left for high school three years ago and his brother two years ago, but his death still rocks through the primary school like a ball hitting skittles.
I could feel the strange atmosphere but I couldn’t put a finger on what it was, not the normal happy good morning as I signed in as a volunteer Mum. They were still waiting to tell the kids and had only told staff. I don’t know how they were keeping it together, I didn’t when I was told.
It hits you in waves as you try not to imagine the pain of the parents, his brother. I didn’t want to know the facts. You meet other people who don’t know the family and their story, yet. Trying for pleasant chatter, ‘how are you’ is equal to ‘oh o.k.’, ‘how are your kids’ same reply. The replies sound rude so you tell them the truth, stuttering sentences through emotions. I can see how badly it makes them feel even thought they don’t know the boy or his family. The consequence of living in a small town by the day of the funeral, two weeks after the end of mental health week, everyone will be grieving or know someone who is grieving, two degrees of separation.
When we told the kids they already knew that a local boy had committed suicide, rumours on the bus. Now the rumour had a face they knew they wanted to know how, why, the facts. There are none and it kind of doesn’t as the reasons are always different.
So hard to understand why this family, a family who is involved. There will be so many shocked families, their involvement in the community means they are well known, Nippers, Scouts and Rugby. Not the drop and run parents, they were involved in the activities, help manage these clubs when able.
They had faith and their children were supported in faith based schools. So we can’t blame the ‘modern times adrift with no morals’.
I have been to the funeral of three aunts in the last eight years and during the normal day to day I still catch myself thinking that the world is a lesser place without their energy, involvement, laughter. I wonder how much a lesser place do we live in now without this boy. Unknown.
‘Please don’t listen to the rumours on the bus’, I tell my kids, ‘respect their privacy, the parents will give out the information they want known’. What I don’t tell them is more important, I don’t want the other kids to make suicide an option with their rationalisation. The richoche. I don’t have choice, the discussion on the bus is out of my realm.
Being a teenager is hard. All the ups are much higher, the lows much lower during this time. The ride down is much faster. A few more years and they will have a broadness allowing them to be more anchored, if they can get past that black dog.
The question is why is it an option for kids to commit suicide and why wasn’t it an option when we were young, or our parents. We grew up in a time when bullying wasn’t discussed much, it happened and you hide the hurt. My father, as an adult, changed his name after being bullied as a child. It was such garden variety name but the hurt remained. There was no open society discussion about bullying, no school support when bullied.
Thankfully people are no longer shunned when connected to suicide, they are embraced as they should be. We cry with them, for them, as it should be.
October media talked to individuals who were glad they had passed through the need to commit suicide. It was a struggle and often they spent years finding a safe space. But how can we talk about teenager and other suicide without it becoming an option?
Our community and their family didn’t get through October unscathed. Why is it an option, I don’t want to hear the ricochet.
Blog Spot: Living and Suicide
01 Nov 2016 Blog Spot: Living and Suicide
Often we here from people reaching out to us whom have lost someone dear to them from mental ill-health. Suicide is a hard topic for anyone to get their head around. Here are some words from Brue.
“We struggle desperately to seek answers…..what signs did I miss? Could I have done more? How was I not able to save him?
It takes a long time to realise and accept that you will never have the answers.”
Here at Mind Blank our solution to the issue is prevention, education, and advocating help seeking pathways. We want to expose our young people with strategies to help themselves and their peers in times of need. We want our young people to speak up about their wellbeing.
If you need immediate help
Blog Spot: Seeking Help
01 Oct 2016 Blog Spot: Seeking Help
Did you know that the one of the most difficult things to say is: Help Me? This week we talk about help seeking. Asking for help can sometimes be a difficult thing. Here are the words from Sara’s blog that she would like to share with us.
“Some times it’s the most degraded thing to have to ask for help. There are so many people who say you can always rely on them in times of need but how much of that is true? All you have to do is ask, but sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do. To admit that you need help takes courage. Its like taking a vulnerable leap and opens up your weak spots. I dread when I have to ask for help because I don’t know where to go? Who to ask? There are so many options but which one to take? Who do I trust the most to be able to tell them such secrets? My parents don’t have much to give but will always lend a hand, friends shouldn’t have to offer support with money, and teachers are there to help but again its embarrassing to ask. I guess its because I admit it implies that I’m not ok, that I cant handle every thing on my own.
I know it is silly to think like this, I am happy that I have had so many supporters in my life now. It seems silly that I didn’t ask for help earlier on.”
If you or anyone you know is suffering make sure you get help. Here are some quick links to help seek support
Blog Spot: Family Ties
01 Sep 2016 Blog Spot: Family Ties
Emily is a brave young girl who will be sharing her story with you today.
“Picture this its mother’s day and this year Mum was so down and depressed. I love her to bit’s. Her sensitivity to things has always left her swinging and experiencing some of the most extreme emotions in life. Today someone upset her and she was simply unable to let that go, so she took all that pain to her own mothers day lunch. She didn’t have one bite of lunch the whole time and the depressive state that she was in left her feeling that she was not supported by any of our family even though we were all out to celebrate her that day.
I feel like sometimes when people are in moods like this they choose to only see the world in those black and white states, and they reject any offers of help that we may have for them.
I speak of this as it brings up the importance of needing support. Sometimes when you are caring for people in your life that are mentally ill, you as the carer too need people to support you. “
If you or anyone you know is suffering make sure you get help. Here are some quick links to help seek support
Here at Mind Blank our solution to the issue is prevention, education, and advocating help seeking pathways. We want to expose young people with strategies to help themselves and their peers in times of need. We want our young people to speak up about their wellbeing.
Crookwell High and Belmore Park Mental Health Community Event in Goulburn
31 Aug 2016 Crookwell High and Belmore Park Mental Health Community Event in Goulburn
Funded by The Mental Health Respite & Carer Support Schizophrenia Fellowship, Mind Blank will be performing two back to back performances at Crookwell High School Goulburn on Wednesday 31st August and also at a Mental Health Community event on 8th October 2016.
The August Chairmans Report
17 Aug 2016 The August Chairmans Report
What is the cost of spreading the Mind Blank Message? or should we be asking What is the cost of not sharing the Mind Blank Message?
We are often confronted with an objection when providing quotes to potential service users for our work, the concern is often related to the cost of the product we offer.
This is a nice problem to have as most people already see the value in what Mind Blank's Mission and vision is setting out to achieve. The issue however often centres around organisations such as schools asking" How do we fund this?"
As a Board we are looking at strategic opportunities to grow the available funds to support our work and ensure we can get the Mind Blank message to those who need it most.
We want to ensure that we are providing value for money for our generous donors provide as well as ensuring there is reciprocated benefits for our corporate partners. Where possible we try and book multiple shows in the same vicinity to reduce travel cost and down time. With this in mind we are currently targeting a range of donors in specific areas to ensure that we work within the community of our donors.
And here is where you can help:
- we always need donors, make a secure online donation today
- we always need volunteers, contact us if you are keen to volunteer your time.
- but right now we are also seeking your ideas on how we can best raise funds to ensure the Mind Blank mission and vision is achieved. Please email me with your fundraising ideas so I can share with our CEO and Board.
What is that mission and Vision again?
Creatively committed to mental health education with mindfulness and integrity.
Mind Blank is recognised Australia wide for mental health awareness & education through delivering innovative programs in schools, communities, and workplaces.
We advocate a holistic and balanced approach through strategic partnerships and collaborations
Remember if you need immediate help please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
Position Vacant – Volunteer - Communications – tell the world
14 Aug 2016 Position Vacant – Volunteer - Communications – tell the world
Position Vacant – Volunteer – Work from home and make a difference in the world.
Help reduce youth suicide!
Communications – tell the world
Mind Blank is a not-for-profit organisation that generates awareness and innovative education of mental health topics in youth across Australia.
We are creatively committed to mental health education with mindfulness and integrity.
Our Vision is to be recognised Australia wide for mental health awareness & education through delivering innovative programs in schools, communities, and workplaces. We advocate a holistic and balanced approach through strategic partnerships and collaborations.
Mind Blank is a health promotion charity, ABN 18 168 485 176, working alongside service providers and local health districts. We are registered as being a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Charities Commission.
If you would like to view a quick sample of what we do please click HERE.
All of our Board directors are volunteer and as the CEO and founder I also volunteer my time and services.
• About this opportunity
This position plays a key role in ensuring that the public face of MB is professional, eye-catching and informative at all times. The Communications coordinator plans, coordinates, and monitors the work of the communications Team, and works closely with the CEO,. The Coordinator is responsible for the MB communications strategy and has strong project management, advocacy and communications skills.
a. Manage the Communications email account and keep it organised
b. Ensure that all public communications (website, FB, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, newslett
Position Vacant – Volunteer – Social Media Super Star
Tse-Yee Teh (Yee)
Tse-Yee Teh (Yee)
Linda Q Chen
Linda Q Chen
Linda is a Canberra-based performer currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts/Commerce at the Australian National University, majoring in English (Drama/Creative Writing focus) and Finance. She has appeared in a smattering of local projects across various mediums, including in ‘August: Osage County’ (2014) with Free Rain Theatre, ‘In Loco Parentis’ (2013) at The Street Theatre, and most recently the short film ‘Sojourn to South Lake’ (due for 2016 release). She also works as an actor/storyteller for AussieWriters’ monthly ‘Tales After Dark: Storytelling for Grown-Ups’ events and dabbles in various forms of writing ranging from memoir to poetry and more recently, works intended for stage and screen.
Eesha is an energetic and unique Canberra based actress/musician with over
ten years experience in both singing and acting. Eesha is a
singer/songwriter currently performing around ACT. Eesha also has extensive
experience in the field of acting which include; television, film and
Sam Moynihan is a Canberra based actor and theatre director with a particular interest in creating works with and for young people. He has worked with a variety of local companies and has studied theatre at the ANU. He runs his own blog detailing his experiences living with MS and appears at various events to support young people with chronic illnesses. Sam is a firm believer in the power of art to transform and inspire; values that align themselves well with forum theatre. Upon completing a psychology degree, he hopes to expand his interests in this area and further his passion for creating social dialogues and assisting young people to navigate life.
Valerie Wilson RSCN RN BEd St. MN (Research) PhD (Monash)
Val is the Director of Nursing Research & Practice Development at the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network and Professor of Nursing Research & Practice Development at the University of Technology Sydney. Val’s areas of interest are in family centred care, developing person-centred cultures, the use of evidence to inform practice, engaging clinical staff in action orientated research and improvement work, knowledge translation and systematic evaluation. This encompasses the development and ongoing support of effective workplaces, teams and leaders. The evaluation of this work, together with a number of local, state and International projects form the basis of her research work. Val holds honorary and visiting professor positions at University of Sydney (School of Psychology), Canterbury Christ Church University, UK (Nursing and Applied Clinical Studies) and Ulster University (Faculty of Life and Health Sciences). The results of her research and practice development work have been published in over 50 peer reviewed journals, book chapters and professional reports and presented at over 100 conferences, workshops and Master classes.
Role: Chief Executive Officer & Founder
Ally Kelly is the CEO of Mind Blank. She started the foundation of Mind Blank at 22 years of age in 2011.
For several years Ally has been asked to be part of the following health panels: Community Consultation Committee for the Grand Pacific and Medicare Local and Wesley Life Force National Suicide Prevention Panels.
She believes that early prevention offers the greatest hope for intervention recovery and therefore takes every opportunity to educate the community to recognise the early signs of mental illness, without stigmatising or discriminating.
Her impact has received both National and International recognition.
Some sample community clients she has worked with include: University of Sydney, Schizophrenia Foundation, Mental Health Professionals Network, Australian Psychological Society, Youth Off the Streets, Navitas English, Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families (SCARF), the Illawarra Multicultural Services (IMS), Illawarra Suicide Prevention Network (iSPAN) and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STRTTS).
Ally is available for speaking opportunities. Her key note message addresses the topic of living with passion and sharing stories from the Mind Blank journey.
Her appearance at your conference/event will be highly engaging and inspirational. Ally is a huge mental health advocate and her energy is contagious.
Topics that she can speak on are:
Leading with mindfulness
Creative career progression
Living your passion
Building a grassroots charity
Managing with a people first focus
Following your true purpose
For more information enquire through email@example.com or 0468912399
Adam is a believer in Toffler’s quote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
He says, “When it comes to improving the future for the disadvantaged, we need to stop and reconcile what we know and readily accept there will always be new information that we can conceptualise and implement into new strategies for the long term safety of our children”.
With a background in senior management and key leadership roles with the Australian Newsagents’ Federation, CROSSMARK Australia, United Petroleum; 7 Eleven; Yum Brands / QSR and Target, Adam enjoys liaison roles with the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Institute of Criminology as part of his current role as Chief Operating Officer of the Australian Newsagents’ Federation.
Adam is the Chairman of MindBlank Ltd and is committed to achieving social justice within the community.
Possessing masters level qualifications and membership of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Adam feels he can contribute to the overall success of MindBlank assisting in implementing strategic goals and further increasing governance procedures within the organisation.
Senior Project Manager at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Former advocate Western Sydney Suicide Prevention and Support Network: Raising public awareness of services to assist suicide prevention providing a voice for those affected by suicide supporting bereaved families
Isha has over 18 years of business management experience. She built and sold her first company, a significant achievement in a collapsing economy, and migrated from Zimbabwe to Australia with her family in 2003.
In Australia, she formed a new company where she consults with SME leaders & their management teams, supporting their businesses to grow their people and their company by creating businesses that put people before profit. As a Director of the MindBlank Board, Isha is committed to educating people so they can understand how to empower themselves to manage their own mental health.
Isha is passionate about education, as she believes awareness is the key to personal freedom. Everyone has mental health, only some people experience mental illness, yet many suffer in silence because they do not understand how to manage their own mental wellbeing.
Role: Board Secretary and Creative Team Admin Support Contact
Janine Schramm lost her son to suicide in 2008 and since then has voluntarily worked tirelessly in the mental health sector. Janine was a founding member of the Western Sydney Suicide Prevention and Support Network based in Penrith, where she held the position of secretary for a number of years.
Janine has help establish two Suicide Bereavement support groups in the Western Sydney area; one in Penrith and the other in Richmond.
Role: Board Member
Kelly is passionate about health promotion and has formal qualifications in Public Health and Evaluation. She has previously worked in mental health promotion, implementing programs under the Queensland Suicide Prevention strategy and Gold Coast Early Years strategy.
Role: Board Member
Ruby is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Psychology) at the University of Sydney. Improving the mental health and well-being of young people is of up-most importance and Ruby aspires to use her own skills to improve support services and encourage help-seeking behaviour within our community.
In January 2015 Ruby completed a Research Assistant Internship at the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong. During this time she became the coordinator of the 2015 AHSRI Seminar Series, and the Health Services and Research Development short course Program. She is now passionate about applying her skills to help Mind Blank with their strategic planning.
Role: Director of Website Projects
Jacinta is Director of Website Projects for Internetrix, a digital agency with offices in Wollongong and China. She is a highly adapt designer with over 10 years experience directing a cross-functional team made of creative and technical experts put in place to create and to implement winning online platforms.
Her work allows for the mastery of skills such as inspiration and direction as well as developing complex brand strategies - leading and inspiring her team to deliver projects through all stages of production.
Jacinta has worked with a vast gamut of clients in the State and Federal Government sectors as well as SME markets covering all aspects of interactive design, UX, brand identity design, print collateral and AGILE and SCRUM project management techniques.
Jacinta is excited to be sharing her knowledge to support Mind Blank as the new Director of Website Projects.
Role: Creative Team
Lara is a Sydney based actor and performance maker. She is a founding member of Little Spoon Theatre Co. and with them has performed in "Where's My Money", "Tiger Country", and "Stitching", and last year produced the sell out season of "Danny and The Deep Blue Sea".
Over the last ten years she has performed with New Theatre, The Street Theatre, ABitOnTheSide, Stage Debris, and has devised and developed work with Lace Balloon, Earthcrosser Company, Elbow Theatre, Stage Juice, and paperweight productions. She has studied various techniques in Sydney, New York, and Glasgow. She's involved with Ninefold, an ensemble who train together in the Suzuki Method, and will be performing Antigone with them in 2016. Last year she was involved in several independent short films, and appeared in an episode of the new hit web series "Starting from... now!".
Lara works as a professional roleplayer with several organisations, is studying her Masters of Applied Linguistics, and has just taken up netball after an 18 year hiatus. Lara has been part of the MindBlank Creatives since early 2014.
Role: Creative Team
Neisha is a young and vibrant physical theatre and circus entertainer whose performance style blends a unique mix of physical performance and character hilarity. She enjoys the genuineness of performance and endeavours to make her work entertaining, fun and completely unforgettable! She is as comfortable high in sky hanging people from her neck as she is balancing on one foot and juggling knives! Neisha’s other physical skills include juggling a range of objects, spanish web, slack rope, MCing, comedy and she performs dare devil stunts like the neck hang of destruction and playing her ukulele upside down in a tank full of water!
Neisha graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Theatre and Media) in Australia and holds a Diploma of Circus Arts from the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology in New Zealand. She has worked for many companies and festivals such as The Hoopla Festival in Darling Harbour in Sydney, The Flying Kiwi Circus, Circus Aotearoa and the Kidsfest Festival in New Zealand, Merrigong Theatre Company, Circus Monoxide, Viva la gong festival, Half-High Circus and Circus Wow in Wollongong, Arts Projects Australia in Adelaide, The West Australian Ballet, The Tasmanian Circus Festival, Free Associations production of The Nutcracker, and The Circus Proms series with New Zealand’s Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. She was featured in the New Zealand Geographic magazine, on an episode of New Zealand’s hippest show Pacific Beat Street and performed for over 30,000 people in Christchurch’s annual Santa Parade.
Charlotte 'Charlie' Truscott
Charlotte 'Charlie' Truscott
Role: Creative Team
Charlotte Truscott, or more better known as ‘Charlie’, is one of the most adaptable children’s circus professionals on the scene. From touring, creating work and running her own school she is continuously creating ways to give the circus experience to just about anyone she can. For over 15 years Charlie’s worked with children and adults of all abilities and skill level.
In 2009 she ran away from university and joined Circus Monoxide, and it was here her circus life really began. Here she worked as a circus performer, rigger, assistant to the artistic director, stage manager, outreach coordinator and head circus trainer.
Charlie graduated from Dell Arte International School of Physical Theatre California in 2014. Here she studied under the world renowned clown and master trainer Ronlin Foreman. Specialising in clowning, commedia, voice, ensemble performance, acrobatics and mask making. Dell Arte is unlike any other institution, it focuses on ‘being’ rather then ‘teaching’ techniques.
Charlie has performed for other companies such as; Sydney Children’s Festival, Sydney Fringe, Park Life, Sydney Festival, Australian Maritime Museum, Sydney Easter Show, Viva la Gong, Merringong Theatre Co, to name a few.
When she isn’t busy touring, Charlie is the Director of ‘Burgh Circus’ in Helensburgh NSW. She has created her own circus school where she teaches classes and creates performance opportunities for students and creates shows to cast other professional circus artists.
Luke comes from a theatre and performance background, with a BPerf from AADA and years of experience in independent thetare both on and offstage. As an actor he has appeared in roles with Rocksurfers, Sydney Chamber Opera and Left Bauer Productions to name a few, as well as being a part of numerous indie and original works.
In 2013 he founded Brave New Word theatre company, where he acts as Artistic Director. The company is dedicated to the development and production of original Australian plays, and has staged five works so far, with Luke acting as writer, producer and director for various productions over that time.
Working with Mind Blank offers a unique experience for Luke, allowing him to develop his theatre skills for a younger audience, while practicing and playing with the 'forum theatre' style of performance in a subject as important as mental health.
Some of our testimonials
As a psychologist with over 15 years’ experience working with vulnerable youth populations, it is my opinion that the Mind Blank theatre forum topics have the potential to open up informed discussions around youth mental health issues in a way that is meaningful, engaging and real for the young people involved, and these are vital ingredients for working effectively with young people.
Youth Mental Health Psychologist
I was introduced to Mind Blank via a performance at Wollongong University. They performed to a student group of about 300 high school students. You could hear a pin drop- they had everyone’s attention, (including my own) in the palm of their hands. It truly was the highlight of the action packed day. In my 13 years as a PDHPE teacher, I have never seen mental health be brought the forefront with such enjoyment, fun and interaction. Their ability to engage students into this taboo topic is brilliant and the ability to keep the conversation going-that is the successful component of Mindblank. I can’t recommend this enough. Students will love it, teachers will appreciate the unique approach it takes to mental health and everyone will benefit from this much needed creative production.
Lake Illawarra Careers Advisor
I thank you for inspiring to face the demons of my past… I consider myself to be a survivor of the battlefield of depression and victor, I look back on things passed and realize I have changed for the better and have come so far and syllable have a long way to go…. Thank you… I’m truly truly grateful to have witnessed Mind Blank at our school”
Raising the awareness of positive life decisions when faced with mental health issues. This has been achieved by not lecturing but allowing students to make these powerful decisions themselves through interactive theatre arming them with the skills and knowledge to know when to seek help.
I quote from Warrawong High school principal Jenny Flowers “It was great! Some of our most challenging year 12 students stopped me in the playground and thanked me for bringing Mind Bank to the school, we all learned so much.
Team Leader Student Employment Advisor (Workplace Learning Illawarra)
Tackling youth mental health issues in our community is an ever increasing concern among parents, teachers, and the broader community, largely due to rising rates of bullying, depression, youth suicide and the growing demand on support services such as Headspace.
As a former PDHPE teacher, I understand the critical importance of education to the understanding and addressing of mental health issues in young people, as well as how difficult this can be.
Mind Blank’s programs give young people an in-depth understanding of not only symptoms of mental health issues, but also strategies to positively seek help and prevent harm. As teachers working closely with students on these issues, I would like to take this opportunity to endorse Mind Blanks work and I encourage you to come along and see how the Scuba Initiative may benefit your students.
MP Member for Keira
If you would like to book a Mind Blank performance
call us on 0468 912 399.
Mind Blank is a health promotion charity, ABN 18 168 485 176, working along side service providers and local health districts.
We are registered as being a Deductible Gift Recipient by the Australian Charities Commission.
There are many ways you can help Mind Blank. Some ideas include in-kind support offers, monthly sponsorship packages, organising a fundraiser or even one off donations. We welcome your ideas and support to continue our growth and professionalization.
Any donation above $2.00 can be used as a tax deduction.