The Hunter’s ongoing battle with mental illness will take centre stage as part of a youth music event designed to open a dialogue on the crippling issue.
Now in its sixth year the Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog competition uses music to engage young people and encourage them to think and talk about mental health issues.
“Music is an awesome medium to start the conversation and promote help seeking behaviour,” headspace Maitland service’s manager Felicity Scott said.
“And about 75 per cent of mental health issues emerge before the age of 25, therefore it is really important to be raising awareness about youth mental health.”
Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog is inspired by the life of Hunter woman Julie Frith who lost her battle with clinical depression in 2008.
The event is now managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health in partnership with headspace Maitland and headspace Newcastle.
“Depression and anxiety are definitely the leading causes of mental [health] issues across the country for young people, the statistics are about one in four, and that is certainly what we would see here in Maitland,” headspace Maitland clinical lead Liz Vause said.
“But events like Youth Rockin’ The Black Dog raise awareness, reduce stigma and send the message that it’s OK to talk about mental health and there are services out there that can help.”
The competition is open to young bands and soloists between 12 and 25 years and includes three live heats during September and a grand final in October.
“You can say things in music that you might struggle to express in a face-to-face conversation,” Byron Williams from headspace Newcastle said.
“How many songs are there about feeling lonely, break-ups, struggling, bullying, missing people, there’s a whole genre called the blues.”
n Entries for the 2015 Youth Rockin’ the Black Dog close on Friday, August 14, 5pm. For more information visit www.himh.org.au/yrbd, or via the YRBD Facebook page at www.facebook.com/YRBDbandcomp.