Local schools get ChatTY

A NEW suicide prevention program for schools was launched at MacKillop College in Mornington recently to strengthen resilience and promote open and positive communication between young people.

Funded by the Tasmanian Community Fund, the #TeamChatTY Schools Program is a partnership between Relationships Australia Tasmania and SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY.

Launched by SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY founder Mitch McPherson in September, the program is designed to enhance young people’s awareness and build knowledge to maintain positive mental health.

Mr McPherson, who won the Premier’s Young Achiever of the Year Award 2016, said he chose to launch the program at MacKillop Catholic College because it was the school his brother, Ty, attended. Ty tragically took his own life in 2013.

“My younger brother went to MacKillop, so naturally that holds a special place for us,” Mr McPherson said.

“The key message of #TeamChatTY is to look after your friends and let them know that nothing is ever so bad that they can’t talk about it.”

MacKillop College principal Eamonn Pollard said #TeamChatTY complemented the school’s focus on building resilience – a quality students needed to make it through tough times.

“At MacKillop, we recognise that it is natural for students to feel anxious or depressed at times,” he said.

“Tragedies such as Ty’s loss have a devastating effect on school communities, and at MacKillop, we are committed to tackling youth suicide head-on and being proactive about preventing it.

“#TeamChatTY complements our current focus on resilience and we are certain our students will gain a great deal from it.”

Minister for Human Services Jacquie Petrusma, who was present at the launch, said #TeamChatTY would be “invaluable” to Tasmania’s students and schools.

Ms Petrusma said youth suicide was a significant issue in Tasmania and across the nation.

“However, we know that well-designed and well-targeted prevention strategies can work in reducing a high personal cost to families, friends and communities,” she said.

“That is why in 2016/17 the Government has provided an additional $3 million to support the delivery of key actions under the Rethink Mental Health Plan (2016-2020), including strategies for suicide prevention.

“We look forward to hearing of more schools joining up to the #TeamChatTY Schools Program.”

All year nine and 10 students from MacKillop Catholic College will participate in the #TeamChatTY Schools Program from 10 October until 1 December 2016.

There will be a separate workshop for year seven and eight students.

For more information about the #TeamChatTY Schools Program, visit www.staychatty.com.au.

Caption: From left, Minister for Human Services Jacquie Petrusma, MacKillop Catholic College student Charlotte Kenny, Liberal Member for Franklin Nic Street, SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY founder Mitch McPherson, Premier Will Hodgman, MacKillop student Meg Francis and Liberal Member for Pembroke Vanessa Goodwin at the launch of the #TeamChatTY Schools Program.