What is it like to be an industry partner in a BCII School?
Mental health is arguably the greatest health issue facing modern society. Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians aged 19-35. With more than 25% of people in most western countries living with a mental health illness there is no doubt it is something we need to be speaking about. Yet mental health remains one of the most stigmatised illnesses to date. Heart on My Sleeve work to break down the stigma around mental health illness. Utilising the simple act of story telling, Heart on My Sleeve are breaking down the stigma around mental health one story at a time.
Last year Heart on My Sleeve partnered with the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation. They came in as an industry partner in the winter school for first year students studying the Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation. Heart on My Sleeve (HOMS) pitched the students the issue- how do we break down stigma around mental health? We sat down with Bec the program coordinator from Heart on My Sleeve to get her perspective on what it is like to be an industry partner in a BCII School.
What excited you most about partnering with BCII?
The degree in itself is so unique and valuable that participating in it in any capacity was really exciting. We were also stoked to have the opportunity to have a bunch of young, incredibly smart students offer their perspective and ideas on both Mental Health and HOMS specifically. When I was at Uni, working on real-life challenges was always more rewarding than working on abstract concepts so it was awesome to be able to give that opportunity.
How did you find out about BCII and come to be an Industry partner?
In May last year UTS lecturer Jacqueline Melvold got in contact with Mitch and explained the BCII and the focus on Mental Health & Wellbeing for the 2018 subjects. Jacqueline proposed the idea of HOMS partnering with UTS for the BCII Winter School. We were honoured and humbled to have been considered so we met with the faculty members that were overseeing the program and discussed what it would look like and how the relationship could be mutually beneficial. Innovation is a huge part about what differentiates Heart On My Sleeve from other charities in the space. Our values as an organisation were perfectly matched with the objectives of the course so we didn’t hesitate to agree to the partnership.
BCII is renowned for being an innovative and unusual degree- did you learn anything yourself whilst working with the BCII students?
I think the degree is fantastic, both Mitch and I frequently commented to the faculty in the lead up to it that we wished we could be students doing the course. For me, working with the BCII students validated the assumptions I had about how intelligent and invaluable young people’s opinions and perspectives are. It was also amazing to see a whole auditorium of students who chose to sacrifice their winter break to be a part of the course. That ambition and dedication was really cool and inspiring.
You had a number of groups pitch projects that they had built to try and help break down the stigma around mental health. Can you tell me what it was like to have these projects pitched to you on a topic that you are so passionate about?
Danny and I were super excited about pitch day. The energy of the auditorium and the enthusiasm of the groups was phenomenal. We loved seeing and hearing the groups unique perspectives on both Mental Health and on HOMS. Hearing fresh ideas and opinions is invaluable and it was truly humbling to be apart of.
Upon reflection, what were your favourite parts about being an industry partner?
Connecting with the students collectively and individually was amazing. For me personally, my favourite part was chatting to the groups throughout the week and on pitch day. So many shared their individual experiences with mental health and I loved getting to listen and let them know that their authenticity and willingness to talk about it is, what we believe, to be a huge part of the solution.
What advice would you give to another organisation or company looking to partner with BCII?
I would encourage them not to be afraid to ask questions and to seek as much clarity as they can on their role and of the objectives of both theirs and the student’s involvement. Additionally, forming a relationship with a university as reputable as UTS and hearing fresh ideas and opinions are both invaluable - the partnership is an awesome investment and I would highly recommend it to any organisation or company considering it.