Youth beyondblue

Youth beyondblue



Know Y someone's speaking out?

The Ybblue Crew, youth advocacy group for beyondblue: the national depression initiative, talk about who they are, and what they're all about.

At most recent estimates, approximately 100,000 young Australians experience depression at clinically significant levels each year (Sawyer et al., 2000). The majority of young people with mental health problems do not seek advice from health professionals; many being worried about the negative perceptions of others if they do, or simply not knowing where to find help.

Focus groups conducted by members of beyondblue with young people inducted that depression is often confused with everyday sadness or anger during adolescence, or is thought to simply be the result of 'having a tough time' at school or work. This is a concern as it means that young people may dismiss the warning signs of depression in themselves or others, such as sleeping difficulties, trouble concentrating, and irritability, as just a normal part of growing up. It is important to differentiate between the typical difficulties associated with development and the warning signs of depression. However, if the potential significance of these symptoms is misunderstood, it is likely that many young people will not seek advice from a professional, or even reveal their experiences to a parent or friend.

Who are the Ybblue Crew?

Ybblue is the youth agenda of beyondblue. The Ybblue Crew are a group of 11 young people between the ages of 16 and 25, from all states/territories of Australia. The Crew includes people who have been affected directly or indirectly by depression, and those who are concerned about and empathetic towards current issues surrounding the mental health of young people. Personal accounts about their involvement in Ybblue reveal that Crew members wish to build on their own experiences to facilitate greater public awareness and understanding of depression and its impact on young people.

As a young person you can sometimes struggle with the problems of the world and how you fit into the scheme of things. I joined Ybblue because I saw it as a good way to work towards helping others...

I believe depression can be known as a silent illness... if I can help create awareness of depression then hopefully I'll also be helping other young people...

We've already come a long way in Australia, but a lot of people still don't understand what depression is, and how it can affect people's lives. As young people, we have the power to change this for the future, and I think it's vital that we work together to achieve this.

Our approach

The Ybblue Crew came together at the beginning of 2004 to form a representative voice for young consumers and carers. In addition to increasing awareness about depression and its impact on young people, their families and communities, the Crew aim to work with service providers and other organisations to create a community response to this issue and to promote safe and supportive environments for young Australians.

To achieve these outcomes, Ybblue is promoting three key activities for young people: to look for the warning signs of depression in yourself and others; listen and be considerate of the feelings of others, and talk to someone if you're worried dabout them or yourself, and be encouraged to seek help.

How to recognise the warning signs of depression?

To promote this first step, Ybblue has begun disseminating information about depression in young people. This includes:

Accurate information about the symptoms or warning signs for depression in young people, and the contexts in which young people may notice these signs in themselves or others;
Current scientific and clinical knowledge about evidence-based treatments for depression in young people;
Dispelling the myths about depression in young people; eg. that it's better to deal with depression alone than to bother others with your problems, or that depression is just the product of normal teenage behaviour.
For this first step to be successfully encouraged, this information needs to be presented in a form that is accessible for young Australians and relevant to their everyday lives. The Ybblue website ( is designed to do this by providing: a forum for young people to tell their stories and read about the experiences of others, the contact details for organisations and help-lines that provide both immediate and long-term help and advice, and a range of free factsheets about depression and anxiety. The Crew and a team of health professionals review these factsheets with a young audience in mind so they use language and examples that are easily understood by teenagers and young adults. Factsheets include vignettes to assist young people in recognising the warning signs of depression, as well as suggestions about how to care for someone with depression and how to handle school or work during this time.

Getting the message out there that it's okay to talk about depression and encouraging young people to ask for help when it's needed

An overall objective for the Ybblue Crew is to reduce the stigma often associated with depression and encourage respect for individuals and families affected by depression. Talking about depression can often be difficult for young people, so the Ybblue website provides tips on how to begin a conversation with someone you're concerned about, how to listen in a supportive manner, and useful questions to ask that can make others feel comfortable about discussing their feelings.

Seeking the help that you and others may need

Ybblue encourages young people to recognise that someone with depression often does not have the energy or strength to find the help they need, and my need the support of a friend of family member to assist them in contacting a health professional or counselling service. The Ybblue website and more detailed factsheets provide advice about the types of health services that are available to young people experiencing depression, such as GPs, specialist health services, web-based counselling services and help lines. The website provides links that enable users to find these services in their area.

Promoting awareness - Ybblue activities

The Ybblue Crew is building and maintaining partnerships with a range of institutions for young people (such as schools and public health centres), and groups that appeal to young people (such as sporting organisations and retail outlets). Throughout 2004 a number of crew members have also participated in television and print media interviews about their experiences with depression. In addition, the Crew are currently managing and developing a number of 'get involved' depression awareness campaigns, in which young people are encouraged to distribute Ybblue information or organise a fundraising event for Ybblue in their community or school. Young people can request Ybblue posters and postcards to help with their campaign.

If you would like additional information about Ybblue or access to factsheets, please visit the website


Sawyer, M.G., Arney, F.M., Baghurst, P.A., Clark, J.J., Graetz, B.W., Kosky, R.J., Nurcombe, B., Patton, M.R., Raphael, B., Rey, J., Whaites, L.C., & Zubrick, S.R. (2000). The mental health of young people in Australia. Canberra: Mental Health and Special Programs Branch, Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

Original article: Auseinetter, December 2004. (Credit: beyondblue).



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