Last updated: 25 May, 2018

It’s a case of generations colliding, with hundreds of young Victorians set to gather with researchers, advocates and policy makers today to discuss youth mental health.

The YMCA Youth Summit in partnership with VicHealth will explore the trends that will impact young people over the next 20 years, what’s being done to support them, and what skills young people want and need to stay mentally well.

According to VicHealth and CSIRO research young people will have to cope with challenges very different to what their parents faced, such as the rise of automation, an increasingly insecure and unstable job market and over exposure to online content.

With one in four young people currently experiencing a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, the summit brought young people together with experts to discuss the issues and develop solutions.

YMCA Advocacy Manager Ari Kurzeme said the mental health and future of young Victorians was a topic we all need to discuss.

“We are living in a time where young people face unprecedented levels of mental illness, and a future that will look vastly different to today.

“We can do more to help young people avoid mental illness in the first place as well as help them to face challenges of the future. Having young people guiding these conversations is key.

“Young people go through enormous change as teens through to early adulthood – they are developing physically, intellectually and emotionally while experiencing huge transitions with education, work, family and relationships.

“These changes alone can negatively impact mental health but combined with huge external factors like an increasingly inaccessible housing and job market it’s clear more must be done.

“Early adulthood is a crucial time when more support needs to be given to help our young people get the knowledge and skills needed to promote their mental wellbeing.

“We need to ensure government, schools, communities and workplaces are doing all they can to promote mental wellbeing and build resilient young people,” Kurzeme said.

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said that this summit is about empowering young people for the future.

“Young people need the skills and support to navigate life’s ups and downs. They also need to be involved in the development of the services to support them,” Ms Rechter said.

“This summit gave young people a chance to tell us what they need to stay well, and for them to learn new skills they can use throughout their lives.

“By working together and creating the programs and support structures young people want and need, they will be truly empowered and ready to face what the next 20 years and beyond has to offer.” 


Key research presented at the summit includes:

  • CSIRO research in the five key megatrends influencing the mental wellbeing of young people over the next 20 years
  • Tomorrow Me – using games to help boost young workers’ resilience
  • VicHealth’s Bright Futures initiative promoting community and young people’s resilience, social connection and wellbeing
  • VicHealth TopSpin campaign focused on marketing and manipulation of the alcohol industry on young people.



YMCA Youth Summit

9.30am – 3pm

The Arts Centre Melbourne

100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC


Vision and interview opportunities:

  • YMCA Advocacy Manager Ari Kurzeme
  • YMCA Youth Ambassador Amanda Gailiss
  • VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter
  • CSIRO Senior Researcher Dr Claire Naughtin
  • Hundreds of young people learning about mental health and wellbeing

Media enquiries:

Shannon McKeogh, YMCA, 0412 612 039, [email protected]  

Rachel Murphy, VicHealth, 0435 761 732, [email protected]