Students on path to combat youth mental health statistics

Tuesday 30 January 2018

Project Altitude LS

Swinburne students Raj Burli, Patrick Malone and Magnus Garciano are starting an enterprise to combat youth mental health statistics.

In summary

  • Swinburne students partner with high school to develop mental health workshops
  • Focus on teaching young Australians to cope with change, stress and setbacks
  • Student uses personal experience of hardship to inspire others

Three Swinburne business students are on a mission to combat rising mental health statistics among young Australians by establishing a program to teach teenagers and young adults how to be resilient.

Patrick Malone, Raj Burli and Magnus Garciano, aged between 22 and 25, are in the early stages of starting up Project Altitude, an enterprise dedicated to empowering young people to take setbacks in their stride.

The trio has developed three evidence-based workshops built around coping with change, managing stress, and turning passion into purpose.

‘Our mantra, in a nutshell, is to connect with students, engage with them, find out what problems they might be facing, and to then empower them to do something about it,’ says Mr Burli.

Passion to purpose

The Passion to Purpose workshop, which the team has delivered at the Swinburne-based Youth Humanitarian Festival, encourages young people to identify changes they would like to see in their communities and to have the courage to act upon them.

‘For young people, the world can seem a bit daunting at times, and it can be overwhelming when you see a problem and want to do something to help, but you’re not sure where to start or how to get there,’ says Mr Burli.

‘We want to instil in these students that there is possibility there. It is what we have done ourselves with Project Altitudeturned a passion into a purpose.’

Overcoming obstacles

The trio, who came together serendipitously through separate leadership programs including the Swinburne Student Ambassador Program and UN Youth Victoria, each have personal reasons for embarking on the Project Altitude journey.

Mr Garciano, who himself left home at an early age following a domestic incident, says he felt compelled to share his experiences and to explore what had ultimately led him to a positive space.

‘You look at that moment and sort of say: that could have gone way or another. A traumatic incident can impact on someone’s life where you are using it as a source of inspiration to prove the situation wrongor someone can be engulfed by the situation.

‘I almost feel indebted to the people who have helped me along that journey and I feel it would be selfish to go on from here and not share those experiences. If you internalise it, it’s not helping anyone, including yourself.’

Project Altitude has partnered with a local high school to test and refine the workshops and will return in early 2018 to run the school’s wellbeing day.

‘The response so far has been phenomenal,’ says Mr Garciano. ‘We give the students the chance to internally reflect on the sessions afterwards, and they will write things like, ‘it was really good to think about other people in the class in a way I wouldn’t have thought about them before’.’

Swinburne Innovation Precinct is coaching the team, who won $1,000 of seed funding in the 2017 Venture Cup.

The motivation for the team moving forward, says Mr Malone, is to simply ‘see young people at their best’.

‘It means everything to see young people hitting their potential.’