David Lt: Collaboration is the key to making an impact

UTS student David Lt has been serving the community since leaving high school and his enthusiasm to dedicate his career to the empowerment of young people actually started at home.

“My mum has always been a ‘save the world’ kind of person and has worked for NGOs for much of her life. I grew up surrounded by that and it taught me that if there isn’t an underlying purpose motivating you in what you’re doing, you’re not going to sustain much enthusiasm.”

David has since become a champion for his commitment to youth mentoring, but the first thing he’ll tell you is that you can’t achieve much on your own.

“I believe it’s all about the team and contributing, not just about one person having a great idea, and expecting everyone to follow. One thing I’ve learned through my work is that collaboration is one of the most important character traits for the future. The key for me has always been to see things from other perspectives, act on feedback, learn from mistakes and constantly move forward by working together.

More than a leader, David considers himself more as the ‘social glue’ that gets people working together. “What I bring to the team is being able to hear a good idea and stepping up to support it. If you got a sense of your own skills and limits, and know how to complement and build a team around that, that’s really the best approach.”

David joined batyr, a for purpose organisation supporting students with mental health issues, after realising that there is a likely chance for students struggling with stress and depression while finishing high school and tackling a higher degree. Initially intended to be a high school program, David took on the challenge to roll batyr out on campus by going door to-door-to at UTS to gather resources and support.

“People here at UTS were so supportive and helped us make it happen. It almost seemed like they were taking a little bucket from faculty to faculty and asked for any spare money that could help us pull it all together. They put a lot of trust in us and in me, and we are working hard to scale the program out across Australia.”

Case study

The Problem

The rate of psychological distress among university students is almost three times higher than the general population[1].  Despite these findings, 80% of young males and 70% of young females will not seek help[2], leading to alarming consequences, such as a ten-year peak in the number of suicides among Australians under the age of 44[3].

[1] https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2010/11/80-uni-students-mentally-stressed
[2] Australian Institute of Mental Health and Wellbeing
[3] ABS, 2016

The Response

Batyr uses peer-to-peer lived experience presentations (batyr@School and batyr@Uni) to smash the stigma around mental health issues and to encourage university students to proactively and mindfully engage with their emotional distress, and learn how to access help before the situation escalates to crisis point.

What helped accomplish this?

The first batyr university collaboration was piloted at UTS in 2014. Key to batyr’s survival and growth are university partnerships, donations, corporate sponsorship and funding. batyr now also works with ANU, University of Sydney, UniSA and University of New England, and is looking for new partners all over Australia.

What has changed as a result?

The 2016 batyr impact report shows that students have a more positive outlook on their future and studies despite battling with mental health issues, and the number of students accessing help has significantly improved. The team at batyr hope this will increase the number of successful graduates who will be able to make an impact of their own.

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