Extra support is now available for young people struggling with mental health in the Northern Rivers. ETC has donated more than $28,000 to Human Nature Adventure Therapy (Human Nature) to support the launch of their Activ8 therapeutic outreach program.
Human Nature offers innovative, nature-based mental health interventions for young people aged 14 – 24 across the Northern Rivers NSW region.
According to Human Nature’s founder Andy Hamilton almost one in four young people were experiencing some form of psychological distress.
“The young people we work with, they may have challenges that are manifesting as mental health issues or addiction, behavioural issues, family breakdowns and under underneath all of these things, there’s almost always trauma,” Mr Hamilton said
“Some young people simply aren’t able to access support when they really need it the most, whether that be due to stigma or embarrassment or a lack of appropriate services or resources. When a young person doesn’t get the help they need, they may then face a range of extra challenges, including disengagement with education or homelessness.”
Human Nature’s programs provide intensive therapeutic support through outdoor expeditions and ‘walk and talk’ therapeutic sessions in nature, rather than in traditional counselling settings like an office.
“We take the time to really get to know young people’s stories and to support them in forging new ways to understand themselves, their situation and move forward in a positive way,” Mr Hamilton said.
Local youth Amelia Langton had recently completed one of the Human Nature youth therapy programs and said she is a lot happier now.
“The hiking and sailing camp we went on was quite intense, but it was definitely something that I needed at that point in my life and I’m really glad that I did it. Through the Human Nature program I’ve learned to let go of my past and not take it personally. The things I went through, they weren’t my fault, which is something that I’ve definitely struggled with for a long time. I can respond in a better way than I was,” she said.
“Having Andy and his team to speak to has been great. I still have some bad days, but I’ve been given the skills to know that better days are coming and the bad days don’t last forever.”
Another program participant, Tully Kerr, said Human Nature had saved his life.
“It made me realize that I’m not weak, I’m not less of a man for crying or for feeling down. It gave me a platform to voice my story, so I wasn’t bottling everything up,” he said.
“Since I was very young I have struggled and tried many different doctors, therapists, psychologists etc. Their office settings tended to freak me out. I suffer from anxiety, so being out in nature, in the wide open spaces with Human Nature really helped and they made me feel listened to.”
Mr Hamilton thanked ETC for supporting their youth therapy program by enabling them to purchase a vehicle and iPads to reach the young people who are most in need of support.
“We work with young people from right across the Northern Rivers region. Having our own vehicle enables us to go to them where they are and offer support in nature, at school or at local facilities through outreach therapy and mentoring,” he said.
According to Tully, he had experienced a direct benefit from the new vehicle and iPads himself.
“I just want to say thank you to ETC. With public transport being limited and not having any family other than my mum to transport me around, it’s been a real blessing to have this extra service to help me get around to the various programs I need to access. This especially helped me during COVID when I was feeling isolated.” he said.
ETC Director Isabel Borelli, said it was a pleasure to be able to support Human Nature with their youth therapy program.
“The ETC Community Support Fund is designed to help organisations reduce disadvantage, generate opportunity, increase support services and/or build capacity in the communities in which we operate,” Ms Borelli said.
“Since 2012 we have given back $1 million to local communities through the ETC Community Support Fund. We are proud to be a not-for-profit company.”
For more information about Human Nature’s innovative programs and referral process, or to find out how you can become involved as a volunteer/supporter, visit the website at www.humannature.org.au or call 0476 796 720.
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