Thursday, 25 November 2010

Headstrong. Understanding Mood Disorders and Resilience for Teens

Over the last year and half at the Black Dog Institute. I've been working on a program for teenagers called Headstrong. It's about 140 images that bring a bit of understanding to what it's like to be a teenager and to have a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar. It's been a massive project but it is finally rolling out into schools across Australia. It also has no Black Dogs in it.

The program will be split into about 8 class room sessions, where there will be group discussion and projects. If you're a teacher and you're interested please go to and do a search for Headstrong. From there you can download the curriculum for free. The curriculum was put together by the Inspire Foundation who also do the amazing teenage website

Teenagers with mood disorders often slip through the cracks because often their symptoms can be confused with changing hormones etc. There also seems to be a shortage of specialists in this area and those who are good have long waiting lists. So I hope the program helps bring about a some decent understanding and hope for those who might be suffering.

A good portion of the program is dedicated to understanding Resilience. The upshot of that is you can't have resilience without going through some sought of adversity. Yet if we go through it, embrace what we're going through, try to learn from it - we can come out the other side being better human beings. We can be kinder, have more empathy, have insight and a higher degree of purpose.

I'm working on getting the 140+ images turned into a book, so watch this space.

Here's few sample images:

These 1st brown coloured ones are about the pressures teens face anyway.

These next ones are some of the symptoms of a mood disorder.

The next couple of slides are about what it's like to have Bipolar.

These couple are about help seeking and looking out for others.

Here's some Resilience slides.

This in my mind is one of the most important pages of the lot.