What are the aims and objectives of this program / service?
Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) is a schools-based mental health and suicide prevention program for 14-16 year olds delivered by the Black Dog Institute. YAM aims to promote discussion and awareness of mental health issues, as well as the development of problem solving skills and emotional intelligence in young people. The program has the strongest evidence base of school programs reviewed by the Black Dog Institute, and European trials show YAM can significantly reduce the risk of suicide attempts and suicidal ideation in adolescents.
YAM was developed by a group of interdisciplinary researchers from NASP/Karolinska Institute (Sweden) and Columbia University. Following extensive, successful randomised control trials involving 10 countries, 168 schools and 13,000 students throughout Europe and the United States of America, the Black Dog Institute worked alongside the creators of YAM to review course content and make adjustments that ensure the program’s relevance for Australian audiences. This is now being tested through the LifeSpan trial.
YAM is delivered in partnership with the NSW Department of Education as well as local youth wellbeing service providers, headspace across the Public, Independent and Catholic school systems.
YAM is being delivered as part of Black Dog Institutes’ LifeSpan trial, a systems based approach to suicide prevention, and has been rolled out in Newcastle and Illawarra Shoalhaven to more than 32 schools, reaching more than 5,000 year-9 students. Expansion into the Central Coast and Murrumbidgee trial sites is scheduled to occur in 2018. YAM is also being delivered in some South Australian schools as part of the National Suicide Prevention Trial supported by Black Dog Institute and it is expected that it will soon be taken up in other parts of the country.
Through five, one-hour sessions delivered over 2-3 weeks, YAM creates a non-judgmental atmosphere, where students are empowered to consider themselves experts in their own mental health and their voices and experiences take centre stage. Role-play and reflection stands at the core of the program and encourages discussion of mental health issues such as stress, crisis response, how to help friends in need, and where to seek advice. These key learnings are reinforced through a YAM guide provided to each student that helps them connect with local mental health resources and youth rights and empowerment organisations in their communities.
What does delivery of this program / service involve?
YAM is delivered by accredited instructors to class groups of around 30 high school students aged between 14-16 years.
YAM instructors are drawn from various fields and include educators, community workers, clinicians and counsellors. Instructors undergo a comprehensive five-day training course to become certified.
The programme spans five sessions covering the following six themes:
1. What is mental health?
2. Self-help advice
3. Stress and crisis
4. Depression and suicidal thoughts
5. Helping a friend in need
6. Who can I ask for advice?
The five sessions include role-play workshops, interactive lectures and group discussion.
Students retain a program booklet and class posters for future reference.