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Your Road Starts Here – Digital platform to assist school leavers to navigate life beyond school

The Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN) has collaborated with the Central Coast Local Health District, headspace and creative agency Lead by Story, to launch the Your Road Starts Here digital platform. Aimed at youth leaving high school (at any age/level), the platform incorporates resources, videos and advice to assist young people to navigate life after school.

Through a co-design process with mental health clinicians and local young people, the comprehensive digital platform has been developed to assist young people to manage life, expectations and build resilience.

The platform is arranged into six key categories relevant to navigating life after school with topics including goals, money, friendships, career, community and support networks. The platform also offers a journal filled with pages where young people can write their thoughts, and tools to assist with planning.

HNECC PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis says school leavers have been identified as a vulnerable cohort.

“Research shows that young people finishing school often struggle with their mental health and suicide risk is heightened. The pressure of the perceived level of expectation from friends and family can be overwhelming, particularly when the young person believes the expectations exceed what they are able to achieve.

“Alongside the Central Coast headspace, the PHN identified a gap in the market for early intervention services for young people and collaboratively, the idea for the platform was born. We are very proud of what has been achieved and look forward to expanding the program.”

Will Small, Founder and Director of creative agency Lead By Story, led the co-design process. “During the co-design process we quickly realised that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ path for young people after school, and it’s never too late to change direction.

“We used the imagery of the road to represent a sense of journey/adventure, which resonated with a desire many young people expressed to travel, to explore and to try new things after school. Year 13 as it’s sometimes called, can be both overwhelming and exciting, and we wanted to communicate that it’s ok to feel all the big feelings.

“Part of what is difficult about finishing school is the pressure young people can feel to have things ‘figured out’ straight away. Affirming that it’s natural for transitions to take place over longer periods of time, and that it’s ok to make changes along the way and try different things seemed like one of the most helpful things we can do for young people. The song ‘the road we’re making’, performed by Fletcher Pilon addresses these things in an authentic way.

“I hope the platform can become a tool that is used by schools and youth workers for many years to come as a ‘starting point’ to spark important conversations that go well beyond a website.”

Further stages in the project will see Youth Access Clinicians outreach into local high schools to conduct group sessions, mental health presentations, and counselling with young people. This will enable the clinician to provide education and early intervention to young people and also advise on support available in the future.

The PHN thanks all contributors to this valuable resource and encourages sharing within the community.

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