The South Sudanese Youth Ambassadors (SSYA) program has been running since 2017 as part of the Mental Health Literacy & Suicide Prevention Project that focuses on improving the wellbeing of the four nominated refugee communities: South Sudanese, Hazara, Tamil and Arabic.
The SSYA program is designed to equip the young South Sudanese participants with mental health literacy, knowledge of mental health services, and leadership skills. The ultimate goal of the program is to establish a pool of local peer support young leaders who are able to utilise self-help strategies, branch out into their communities, and build peer networks with other young people. These ambassadors will serve as a link between refugee communities and mental health services.
Ayen Achiek Anyieth, who was a participant of the program, has been employed short-term since November 2020 to lead the program with the support of experienced community service workers at STARTTS. Ayen has been actively involved in different groups in her community. Ayen believes that the SSYA program provides a sense of empowerment for young South Sudanese people.
Leadership training camps
The leadership camp program is tailored for the South Sudanese youth by Dr Wayne Fallon, Senior Lecturer in Management, School of Business Western Sydney University in collaboration with STARTTS. The program consists of activities with South Sudanese youth influencers, leadership skills sessions, suicide prevention training and career development consultations. These activities hope not only to help young participants to become successful individually but also future leaders and ambassadors in their communities.
Accidental counselling training sessions
The Accidental Counselling Training is designed and adapted for young people who have non-counselling background and may find themselves supporting others suffering distress. The training offers practical solutions, helps the young participants set boundaries, engage in self-care and make referrals to appropriate mental health services.
…it is a really good initiative and we’re lucky to have the connection to get here and there are people out there that don’t have that connection… There’s a lot of youth in our community and we don’t actually have a lot of programs like this. . .
The SSYA Program is funded by the Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WentWest) and delivered in partnerships with the Western Sydney Local Health District and Savannah Pride.