Lifehack: tackling youth mental health head on

Lifehack: tackling youth mental health head on

Wanted: young thinkers, doers and change makers with the creative, digital and business chops and drive to help tackle youth mental health issues head on.

The newly launched Lifehack initiative draws on founder Jason Armishaw's experience with Startup Weekend (which brings together entrepreneurs to build a business in 54 hours), applying a similar model to creating digital solutions specifically within the field of youth mental illness. 

Four Lifehack weekends will be held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin in April with the most promising ideas to be funded through the government’s Social Media Innovations Fund and implemented with the support of coaches.

"I’ve seen for myself that when you get the right mix of people in a room, the right energy, the right motivation, and some time pressure, amazing things can happen - and usually do," says Armishaw, pictured above with prime minister John Key at the Lifehack launch.

"I believe that youth know youth problems better than anyone else. So why not give them a chance to solve them? They are closer to the issues, and they can relate to them on a much deeper and more honest level.

“Also, young people can and will use the tools they’re already familiar with; digital devices, social media networks, and a natural ability to bond with technology in a way that our parents never will.”

He says more than 50 people have registered to participate and there has been "huge interest" from the Vodafone Foundation, Leadership NZ, Microsoft NZ and many other organisations.

"Like all new things, we've had a mixed response, but for the most part everyone has been really positive and supportive of the idea, and are looking forward to seeing what young people can produce."

Both participants and mentors are being sought (each Lifehack weekend will bring together as many as 75 young people)

“We want to make these ideas truly viable. And to do this, we will be working with the mental health community, high schools and universities around New Zealand to get them tested, implemented, and put into practice," Armishaw says.

“And beyond that, we want to tap into our entrepreneurial spirit, and market our greatest resource to the world: our ingenuity, our can-do attitude, and our ability to see challenges, not problems.”