iyarn’s CEO Lockie Cooke on ABC News for Mental Health Week

iyarn’s CEO Lockie Cooke on ABC News for Mental Health Week

iyarn’s CEO, Lockie Cooke, has appeared on ABC news for a feature on mental health that coincided with Mental Health Week 2021 and World Mental Health Day.

The full clip is here:

Read the Full Transcript

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Host: It’s mental health week and for so many people across the country it comes as a challenging and uncertain time. But support is out there, whether it’s through a walk with a friend, a phonecall or a quick message to a loved one.

With this in mind, Lockie Cooke founded the app iyarn which encourages people to check in and look out for each other and he joins me now. Lockie really good to talk to you, just tell us a little bit about how this app works.

Lockie: The app is all based around a check in. So you’re giving yourself a score low or high in the area of life that really matters to you. If you’re a young person you may be worrying about study or homework or a new sport team, or if you’re a bit older it’s around work and stress management. So you give yourself a score and then you get a quick visualization on how you’re going in that moment.

Host: And when you say the quick visualization, is that in terms of the wheels?

Lockie: Yes, exactly, like the life wheel. A lot of people have heard of it. Tony Robbins has spoken about the life wheel but we’ve made it a simple quick check-in tool, on both a native mobile application but also a web-based platform that’s safe and secure for a lot of young people to use, in the school environment as well.

Host: How did iyarn come about? Why did you see a need for it?

Lockie: So iyarn comes back to this story. I was very fortunate to spend alot of time up in Ardyaloon or One Arm Point Community in the north west of the Kimberley and I was fortunate enough to be culturally adopted into the Ejai family up there.

I learned about this word called “liyarn”. Liyarn is a word for your body, your emotion, your mind, your spirit, your everything. As a whadula or white fella I came into that community and i learned about that and it was so powerful the way that whenever you mention that word liyarn it’s really about creating that safe space to check in on that person. So I was like “wow, this is such a powerful tool for my family up in Ardyaloon, for the Bardi people, let’s bring that into whadula, us white fellas” and so we created an app to help do that in make it easier to really create that safe space to check in on people.

Host: Yeah, and you also experienced losing some friends to suicide at a young age.

Lockie: Yeah. Sadly, most Australians actually have got someone in their network who have lost their lives to suicide. Myself when i was mid-twenties i was very fortunate not to have anyone and then all of a sudden in mid-twenties i had a few crew in my year group and then family friends who went down that path. I’ve got one experience we’re leaving the the funeral service we’re like “oh we just got to check in more on each other” and you know everyone would do anything to be there for a mate, but we don’t actually have the language around how do we do that. So this has been my passion and purpose since then to create that safe space so you can really check-in and make it part of the way how you engage with your buddies and peers.

Host: So who can use it? You mentioned schools but can it also be used in workplaces and by individuals?

Lockie: Exactly. Yeah the tools works across all areas of kind of community. It started off about being a peer support tool and then all of a sudden i was starting to share it with a few teachers and they’re like “wow, this would be really powerful for pastoral care.” So, at the beginning of school the teachers will check in on kids maybe once a week, or once a day for those kids who need a bit more support.

A lot of these young people don’t have the language to actually articulate how they’re feeling, but they can put a number zero to ten to show how they’re feeling at that moment and that really empowers the teachers to understand where that person’s at, and maybe not in front of the whole classroom, but pull them aside and have a bit of a yarn later that day.

So it’s really quite appropriate for young people and we’re really lucky to be working with some of the best researchers with us in further developing the platform to be appropriate for all Australians, particularly those Australians who’ve been impacted by COVID. We’re going to be coming out of COVID soon and it’s so important that we’re checking in on people.

Host: Yeah, you’ve adapted it for people undergoing hotel quarantine?

Lockie: We’re working a fair bit with the Australian Institute of Sport as a tool to check in on athletes. I’m a past athlete, and the issue is with people locked up in quarantine, how do you actually check in on that buddy like you may be a loved one, family friend who’s coming from over abroad who may have a bit of challenge around well-being and mental health. It’s hard, quarantine, i’ve done it. Maybe if you don’t want to be checking on every day calling up for a big yarn but actually, hey let’s do a quick check in, show me how you’re going in the areas you want to check in on, and then you know, okay it’s okay i don’t need to like call up and and just do a bit of a yarn but you can know that someone’s there looking out for you and checking in on you.

That was really powerful for some of the athletes in quarantine, but also peers and buddies who are in quarantine just to show that there’s someone looking out for them.

Host: And what’s been the feedback from users?

Lockie: The feedback has been “this is awesome, how we can create a safe space to do a check-in in 30 seconds”. What I was finding when the check-in was like a 50-question survey for mental health and i felt a bit threatened by that. I don’t feel comfortable to do that, so but hey I’ll do a quick check-in on maybe the six areas of life that matter to me and i can share that with a buddy. So the feedback is it’s just simple, easy to use and then it doesn’t kind of break the yarn that you have with your buddies, family friends or peers. Schools are adopting it across the wholes chool environment, so we’re getting the feedback it’s working. And the feedback on the government side as well, the Department of Education are actually starting to roll it out to more State Schools which is really really encouraging.

Host: Yeah, you’ve done really well with it. Lockie Cooke, thanks so much for sharing your story with us.

Lockie: Great to be here. Thanks a lot.

iyarn’s Broad Reach Across Australia

The challenges for mental wellbeing in the community are well documented. iyarn makes data collection and interpretation easy through interactive data visualisation tools. A check in is only a few clicks and yet it opens a world of conversation.

iyarn’s steadily expanded its reach in 2021, with over 80 schools using the platform to varying degrees. We’re in the process of partnering with the Department of Education to make the platform more available to more schools across Western Australia.

iyarn’s 250,000 data points highlight a few common areas that are of interest to people: Mental Health, Friends, Sleep, Happiness, Family, Exercise, Health and Learning.

Strengthening the Approach

The addition of customisable support resources was a major step forward for iyarn’s platform earlier in 2021. Since the arrival of added pressure of lockdowns and travel disruptions, more support resources had been sought for when young people are feeling low.

We’re also teaming up with University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in the near future to undergo an extensive research project to extend the evidence behind best practice support for young people and teachers. The initiative is co-funded through Investment NSW and the COVID Tech vouchers initiative.

Further Comment

Lockie is available for further comment. Lockie can be reached at lockie@iyarn.com.au.