STRONGER TOGETHER: Nurturing Purpose—Addressing Youth Wellbeing Through Education

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Last updated: 01/05/2024

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the critical importance of aligning personal values with work and education to enhance mental wellbeing and health, highlighting the innovative IMPACT Community Academy as a model for purpose-driven education to address increased disengagement in the mainstream system.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

In our quest for personal and professional fulfillment, the importance of aligning values with our work cannot be overstated. Yet, for many, this alignment remains elusive, leading to dissatisfaction, burnout, and a sense of disconnection. As we strive to find meaning in our daily lives, the correlation between purpose and mental wellbeing becomes increasingly apparent.

Research underscores the vital role of values alignment in fostering a sense of purpose, contributing not only to job satisfaction but also to improved mental health and even increased life expectancy. Conversely, the absence of such alignment can lead to a host of negative outcomes, impacting confidence, performance, and overall wellbeing.

While the pursuit of purpose is often considered a personal journey, its significance extends far beyond the individual. In today's society, where societal challenges abound, the need for purpose-driven action becomes ever more pressing. Nowhere is this more evident than in youth education and wellbeing.

Recent studies paint a troubling picture of the mental health landscape among young people, with rates of anxiety, depression, and school disengagement on the rise. Against this backdrop, traditional education models are increasingly inadequate in addressing the holistic needs of students.

Recognising this pressing need, the IMPACT Community Academy was borne, and a protype was approved by the IMPACT Board on the 25 March 2024. Initiatives like The Academy are emerging to fill the gap. By reframing education through a wellbeing lens, these programs aim to nurture the physical, emotional, and psychological health of students, preparing them for the complexities of adult life.

At the heart of this approach lies a fundamental belief: education is not merely about academic achievement but about equipping young people with the tools to thrive in an uncertain world. Through a curriculum focused on personal growth, resilience, and self-awareness, students are empowered to forge their own paths and pursue their passions.

The IMPACT Community Academy represents a bold step towards reimagining education as a vehicle for collective wellbeing. By fostering a supportive environment where every student's needs are met, regardless of background or circumstance, it seeks to disrupt the prevailing narrative of mental health stigma and exclusion.

While the road ahead is undoubtedly challenging, initiatives like these offer a glimmer of hope in an otherwise complex landscape. By prioritising purpose-driven education, we not only improve individual outcomes but also contribute to the broader goal of building a mentally wealthy society.

As we confront the myriad of challenges presented today, let us remember that the pursuit of purpose is not a luxury but a necessity. By investing in the wellbeing of our youth, we lay the foundation for a future defined not by despair, but by resilience, connection, and collective flourishing.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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