A Little More Conversation: iyarn in the News

A Little More Conversation: iyarn in the News

iyarn recently appeared in a mental health feature in The West Australian, to coincide with R U OK? Day.

From the article:

The sheer volume and pervasiveness of information — both good and bad, true and false — has brought a pressure unlike anything we have encountered, and three young, high-profile West Australians working in the field of mental health say that learning how to harness it is a critical challenge for the wellbeing of this generation.

Greg Hire started A Stitch in Time, a non-profit agency which provides programs for at-risk youth, in 2014, when he was still shooting baskets during an illustrious career with the Perth Wildcats. Lockie Cooke was an elite sprint kayaker at the WA Institute of Sport who established a reconciliation foundation in his teens and who now pours his passion into a mental health app he has developed called iyarn. Lily Gresele was in the WAIS artistic gymnastics program for eight years before injury and her own mental health battle made her call time on her career. She is a Lifeline community custodian and documents her recovery on her Instagram page @how_2_bewell.

Mental health statistics tell one story but Hire, Cooke and Gresele have other important stories to tell, and they say it is these — their own personal histories — that are the key to unlocking vulnerable teenagers. Hire, 32, says elite athletes are given a perfect platform to connect with people. “People do put athletes, people in the arts, on a pedestal,” he says. “We can use that to form connections, to engage with people.”

Hire met Cooke, 30, when they were ambassadors for a mentoring and advocacy program run by the Department of Communities. As a teenager, Cooke founded the Indigenous Communities Education and Awareness Foundation after a school visit to the Kimberley. It would inspire in him a desire to help others through reconciliation, community development and peer support programs and lead him to Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings, the United Nations and a video chat with princes William and Harry.

For the past three years, he has developed an innovative program called iyarn, which allows people to check on their mental health and use the results to start a conversation with friends. The program was initially web-based but was launched as an app in June. It was downloaded more than 3000 times in the first few weeks and can be used by companies and sports clubs to engage with their teams, or by individuals.

Quite simply it creates a digital wheel of the areas of your life you want to monitor and asks you to rate yourself from one to 10. “Many people struggle to describe how they are feeling,” Cooke says. “Iyarn allows you to rate yourself out of 10. It creates a picture of your wellbeing, builds self-awareness and helps create conversations.”

He says it is a valuable tool, particularly for men, who are far more likely to take their own lives than women, and says it has been useful building his relationship with his father. “When I asked my grandfather about his father, he said he terrified him,” Cooke says. “My own father has been fantastic but iyarn has definitely helped create the environment to talk about how we feel as a family. A suicide in our extended family certainly opened our eyes.”

Though the iyarn app is Cooke’s full-time job, he works with The Rites of Passage Institute in NSW, taking fathers and their sons away for a week to develop their relationships and help the teens become responsible adults. “We need to encourage them to take more ownership of their life,” he says.

Cooke says social media has created new challenges in men’s mental health, challenges that are very different to the traditional role of man as the breadwinner. Making young people feel safe, supported and part of a community are important ways to protect them.

Read the Full Article

See the full article over at the West Australian (paywall).

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