MENTAL illness among Australian youth is on the rise but two Catholic men hope their new podcast could make young Aussies healthier in mind, body and soul.
Dave Jorna and Jared Press are the voices behind Do Life Better, a podcast teaching young people how to live a happier and more fulfilled life.
Earlier this year, a report into youth suicidal behaviours by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found 10 per cent of teenagers surveyed reported they had self-harmed within the previous 12 months and five per cent had attempted suicide.
Mr Jorna said while the podcasts didn’t delve into suicide prevention, they were engaging in topics that could help young people at risk.
Topics include teaching young people how to combat stress, understanding the power of small actions, and the values of success and failures.
“A big aim of Do Life Better is what are the little messages, the little tips, the mindset things that anyone can do to increase their mental health and their wellbeing, their emotional intelligence, their mindset,” Mr Jorna said.
“Being aware that suicide and mental health is a big issue, then looking at things like gratitude, support structures, who are the five people you associate with the most.
“By trying to up-skill young people in a whole bunch of different areas helps them hopefully to be in a much better mindset, emotionally and wellbeing-wise, to hopefully help them be in a better position during those times.”
The podcasting duo have recorded more than a dozen podcasts and were inspired by real Australians they have met while working as retreat co-ordinators for Project Hatch.
Project Hatch is a schools-based ministry that encourages young people to reach their full potential emotionally, physically and spiritually, and was founded nearly 10 years ago by Mr Jorna, a qualified emotional intelligence consultant and trainer.
It has become one of the most sought-after student leadership and personal development programs across Australian schools but Mr Jorna said students were desperate for more.
“We are aware that when we work with students on retreats and leadership training programs we’re with them for a certain amount of time and we know that a lot of young people want more,” he said.
“They want to reconnect, they want more messages, they want to be reminded of the content or messages on a long-term basis.
“They’re driven for more knowledge and inspiration on how to do life even better in terms of leadership and wellbeing, mindset (and) emotional intelligence so to be able to develop a podcast to give them regular content is something we find really important.”
The Do Life Better podcast has already been downloaded 2500 times around the world, including students in regional cities of Australia.
As a former teacher for The Cathedral College, Rockhampton, Mr Press said regional students often missed out on opportunities to enhance their life skills because of distance.
“I am quite passionate about the regional areas and making sure they do get some attention and this is one of those ways to connect with those kids,” he said.
Mr Press said as a teacher he was aware of the increasing numbers of mentally ill students.
“While we are passing on information to students, I don’t think there’s enough listening,” he said.
“And whilst we can’t listen to them on our podcast, we listen to what they are wanting and we can see that as we move around (Australia).”
Do Life Better will also include interviews with people inspiring young Australians to reach their full potential.
The team has already featured quadruple amputee Matthew Ames and has lined up prominent psychologist Dr John Baretta to speak in future episodes.
They hope to open up the floor to other important figures including Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Fr Rob Galea and those who are disconnected with the Church.
“I think we’re very aware that we’re not God’s gift to young people and that they might get bored of us,” Mr Press said.
“Because we are ministering to young people we want to get it changing; we want different voices, different styles, different opinions so the net is cast even wider all the time.”
The team’s aim is to reach one million young people across Australia.
Mr Jorna said podcasts were a natural way to connect with young people living in the digital age.
“What we hear from a lot of research with entrepreneurs is the direction they’re taking now is audio because a lot of people are really time poor,” he said.