Would You Help A Mate?

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25th November 2009, 09:00am - Views: 1333

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Would You Help a Mate?

A new school-based program which encourages teenagers to help their

peers seek help for cannabis-related problems is set to be rolled out

nationally after successful trials in a Melbourne secondary school.

MAKINGtheLINK, a new help-seeking program developed by Orygen

Youth Health (OYH) as part of its work with the National Cannabis

Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC), was found to significantly

increase the likelihood of teenagers seeking professional help for drug

and mental health problems when it was trialled on nearly 200 year 10

students at Williamstown High earlier this year.

According to Associate Professor of Addiction Psychiatry at OYH, Dr

Dan Lubman, the new program is the first in Australia to show young

people how to approach and help a friend if they are concerned about

their alcohol or other drug use or mental health, and highlights the

crucial role that friendship groups play in teenage life.

“Our research demonstrates that young people are an important resource

to their friends in terms of help-seeking. Indeed, young people identify

that their friends are often the first people they discuss their problems

with, even though many young people are not sure what to say or how to

respond,” Dr Lubman said.

“This early intervention program successfully reduces the barriers often

associated with seeking help for cannabis and mental health problems by

showing teenagers how to approach and support friends who they think

are at risk.”

“At the completion of the pilot program more than 90 per cent of the

students believed that developing their help-seeking skills was very

important if they wanted to help their friends with a drug or mental

health problem.” 


This flexible, interactive program funded by the Australian Government

Department of Health and Ageing was developed for teachers to

incorporate into the curriculum and consists of the ‘Mates Help Mates’

DVD, class room materials and teacher’s manual which depict real life

situations where students are shown how to intervene and help friends. It

also has an Implementation Guide for schools wanting to move in the

direction of becoming ‘a help-seeking school’.

According to the Assistant Campus Principal of Williamstown High Ms

Linda Maxwell, both students and teachers responded very well to the

program which was informative, interactive, engaging and realistic.



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“We have long known the important role that peers play in a teenager’s

life. A program which targets that relationship and builds on students’

sense of responsibility for their friends’ welfare is a creative and realistic

response to many of the problems faced by young people today.”

To view extracts of the ‘Making the Link’ DVD please go to the

following links. These files are suitable for on-line downloads;

(please note Quicktime Player is required to view these files)

Clip 1 : 

Clip 2

*Current research shows that one in four young people between 15 and

25 will suffer from a mental illness. 

If you or someone you know has a cannabis or mental health problem

Go to www.ncpic.org.au or www.oyh.org.au, or call the free, Cannabis

Information and Helpline 1800 30 40 50. 

Contact details:

Lisa Mulhall

Orygen Youth Health

0412 555-063


Clare Chenoweth, tel.

(02) 9385 0218, 0401 718 548, 

email c.chenoweth@unsw.edu.au


Cannabis Information and Helpline – 1800 30 40 50

NCPIC website – www.ncpic.org.au

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