Youth mental health charity zero2hero has celebrated a decade of making a difference to the Western Australian community.
Youth mental health charity zero2hero has celebrated a decade of making a difference to the Western Australian community, empowering more than 220,000 young people through its mental health and suicide prevention education and programs.
After tragically losing her stepfather to suicide, zero2hero founder and CEO Ashlee Harrison founded zero2hero with a mission to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people before they reach crisis point, and to prevent suicide in Australia.
The not-for-profit now educates, engages and empowers thousands of young people each year through a wide range of innovative school programs, leadership camps and fundraising events, in the hope of positively impacting the critical suicide rates in Australia.
“In Australia, we tragically lose one young person to suicide every day,” Ms Harrison said.
“I know that suicide will take more young people than anything else. The best thing we can do as a society and as an organisation is to prevent anyone even getting there.”
zero2hero’s purpose is to equip young people to be able to manage the ups and downs of life.
“We don’t for a second think that the downs won’t exist because of us. We do, though, believe that with what we teach young people they’ll be able to handle those downs and be able to navigate them a lot better than they would have without us,” she said.
Research shows that 75 per cent of all mental illnesses first present in people under the age of 25, making early intervention and supportive communities important for prevention.
Ms Harrison said she set up zero2hero "to be part of the solution” with the hope that no one else would feel the pain and suffering her family endured in the lead-up and after the loss of her stepfather.
“I don’t want any teenager to feel how I felt, and as unsupported as I felt as a teenager,” she said.
“I can hand on heart say that because of our programs, because of our work in the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands of young people are now better supported to support themselves."
Last year alone, zero2hero engaged with more than 28,000 young people, trained 218 students in suicide prevention, and provided more than 16,000 students with mental health education, reaching 244 WA high schools.
“We’ve got a strong commitment to working in every WA high school and we’re starting to move towards also working in every primary school in WA,” she said.
“The education around mental health needs to start earlier because the rates of illness are getting younger, so any preventative measures need to be ahead of that.”
In addition, zero2hero has actively been fundraising towards the purchase of its own camp site to help facilitate more camp programs and diversify income streams, and will examine opportunities to engage in alternative, holistic mental health care for young people.
“I want to create something that’s an alternative, something that offers treatment but also gives young people more agency in their care. It could use equine therapy, or garden therapy, or surf therapy, but would be immersed in nature and would be holistic in the way we treat diet and movement,” she said.
“We could not do this without the backing of all our partners, sponsors or donors, and we are so grateful for all their support and confidence in what we are doing to effect change,” she said.
“If all of our work and effort in the last decade has saved just one young person, and their family from the heartache of losing someone to suicide, then it was all worth it.”
Find out how you can support zero2hero through a donation, becoming a corporate partner, holding a fundraiser, volunteering, attending an event, or becoming a youth mentor.