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YMCA aids young people during mental health month

YMCA aids young people during mental health month
October 11, 2019

With 18 to 24 years olds having the highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group in Australia, YMCA NSW is expanding its expand Uplift mental and physical wellbeing program for young people across several Y sites in Sydney.

Advising that the expansion of the free Uplift program comes off the back of its highly successful pilot program in Penrith, YMCA NSW Chief Executive, Susannah Le Bron stated “this is a sensational program - It’s different to other mental wellness programs out there because it is focused on prevention and not treatment after the onset of the illness.

“Our Uplift program is designed to reach young people before they hit crisis point, providing them with the tools they need to proactively manage their mental and physical wellbeing over their lifetime.

“We have worked with 143 young people taking part in the program, and our recent impact report shows that 74% of those young people feel Uplift improved their mental health and 92% feel Uplift improved their physical fitness”

Uplift is a free, eight-week program that provides a safe space for 12 to 25 year olds to connect with trained health and fitness professionals and qualified youth workers to improve their wellbeing through exercise, socialising and learning additional skills and knowledge about making healthy lifestyle choices.

YMCA NSW Executive Leader Community Services, Louisa McKay, said the timing of the Uplift expansion is ideal given the HSC exams start next week and it is mental health month.

McKay noted “the onset of mental illness is typically around mid-to-late adolescence, with youth having the highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group in Australia, so early intervention and prevention is important.

“Right now HSC exams are around the corner for many of our state’s young people, there can also be issues at home and pressures from friends, which can all impact a young person’s wellbeing and mental health- Young people face a lot of challenges and sometimes it can feel a bit out-of-control

“By expanding our preventative Uplift program to more sites throughout NSW, including Penrith, Ku-ring-gai, Taree, Epping, Mt Annan and the Hawkesbury, we hope to provide more young people with the mental health and well-being skills they need to manage these many challenges.”

Isabella, 18, completed the pilot Uplift program in Penrith and said Uplift made a big difference to her at a time when she was affected by a lot of change.

She advised “I recently graduated and was nervously waiting for my university course to start while attempting to balance a 9 to 5 job.

“I was desperately seeking something that was beneficial to my physical and emotional health, but also allowed me a space to communicate with other people in my age group.

“Mentally, emotionally, physically and socially this program has made an immense positive impact on my life. My sleep schedule and eating habits have improved, physically I’m healthier and I feel better about myself, my appearance and the way I have structured my weeks around this program."

Uplift offers young people an eight-week free fitness membership including group fitness classes, weekly Uplift classes with a group of people around the same age, and support and education about nutrition, exercise benefits and safety, and goal setting. 

Young people can join the Uplift program through self-nomination, and parents, caregivers, youth and service providers working with groups of young people can also submit registrations on-behalf of young people that want to join the program.

To get involved, or for more information visit

Images courtesy of YMCA NSW.

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