Balnaves Foundation commits $1.6m for ‘groundbreaking’ study into batyr’s preventative youth mental health programs 

Fri, 10 May 2024 Estimated reading times: 3 minutes

The Balnaves Foundation has announced that it is supporting youth mental health charity batyr with a $1.6 million grant to conduct a 5-year longitudinal research project to evaluate its suite of programs. The aim is to demonstrate compelling evidence that investing in early intervention, school-based social and emotional wellbeing programs – which are currently underfunded – will deliver significant impacts in tackling the mental health crisis affecting young people in Australia.  

Research indicates that 75% of mental health conditions arise before the age of 24. 
According to the Australian Bureau of statistics, young people have the highest levels of mental ill-health of any age group, with two in five young Australians experiencing a diagnosable mental health condition.  

More than 400,000 young people have participated in batyr’s programs, which emphasise mental health literacy education, early intervention and stigma reduction to address these issues. While there has been continued investment in mental health crisis response services and resources, there is a significant funding gap in prevention and early intervention. 

Hamish Balnaves, CEO of The Balnaves Foundation.  Picture: John Appleyard /Snappleyard

The Balnaves Foundation is thrilled to be supporting batyr in this ground-breaking project. Witnessing batyr’s unique approach to preventative mental health education – and the profound impact they are having on young people – has consistently inspired us,” says Hamish Balnaves, CEO of The Balnaves Foundation. 

Psychological distress among young people has been increasing, including prior to COVID-19, and suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15-44. Young people have shared that stigma, shame and embarrassment often prevents them from seeking help before they are in crisis, and they are also often unaware that what they feel can be attributed to mental ill-health and dismiss their symptoms. 
The longitudinal project, funding for which commenced in April, aims to provide compelling evidence that investing in school-based social and emotional wellbeing programs will deliver long-term impacts. The data collected will form reports, be presented at conferences, included in policy submissions to the government and used to promote the need for preventative and early intervention programs such as batyr’s. 

“Our investment in this long-term research will give batyr the opportunity to produce clear evidence on the value of their preventive and early intervention programs that address the mental health challenges confronting Australia’s youth, something we’re incredibly proud to be a part of,” says Hamish. 

The project will be done in collaboration with an independent academic research partner, ensuring a rigorous evaluation of batyr’s programs’ impact over the course of several years. 

Katie Acheson, CEO of batyr

Katie Acheson, batyr CEO, says: “This momentous $1.6 million grant from The Balnaves Foundation is not just a milestone for batyr: it’s a game-changer for the entire youth mental health sector, allowing youth organisations like ours to pioneer research that will shape preventive strategies that actually work for young people for years to come.” 
This level of research is challenging for organisations with limited resources and batyr describes it as an incredible opportunity to gain an increased evidence-based understanding of the impact of its work. Beyond batyr, this project would represent a significant contribution to the evaluation of preventative interventions. The project has received endorsement from government advisory specialists, researchers and clinical psychology experts.