ESC students Maaka Clark, Caeleb Jacobs, Oliver Harris, Sharni Franks and Annalese Pipicella. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

EAGLEHAWK Secondary College student Sharni Franks said she would act if she suspected a classmate was suffering mentally.

Before she attended the YMCA Youth Summit on mental health and wellbeing last week, Sharni said she may have just assumed the same classmate was having a bad day, and left them alone.

Annalese Pipicella said she would personally talk to the person and ask if they were okay, offer an opportunity to talk or suggest someone who could help.

Five of the 10 ESC year 10 students who attended the summit summarised for the Bendigo Weekly what they learned and said they would attend another summit, such was the inspiration they gained in workshops and activities and from speakers.

What they learned was aimed at reinforcing their mental wellbeing.

Among them, they had ideas about how to bring the lessons home for other students.

They agreed as a group they listened more attentively when young people told their stories.

They also had opinions on social media and its use as a tool to communicate.

“It is easier to talk when you are behind a screen, easier than face to face,” Caeleb Jacobs said about talking personally about mental health.

But they conceded social media also made it easier to project a false picture of mental wellbeing when you were really hurting inside.

Bendigo YMCA youth empowerment coordinator Jamie Roberts organised the trip to Melbourne for the Eaglehawk students.

The event attracted 390 students, young people and professionals.

Maaka Clark said she was particularly inspired by a young female speaker who defied negative feedback she had received at school because of a mental health diagnosis, to become a woman named by Michelle Obama as a “changemaker”.

Sharni said a presentation about the Pride Cup hosted initially in 2014 by the Yarra Glen Football Netball Club in support of their teammate Jason Ball who came out as the first openly gay Aussie Rules player, prompted her to think the cup could be hosted between two Bendigo clubs.

Oliver Harris suggested adults had a place in teaching about mental health because teenage brains weren’t fully developed.

But he said parents could also do with some education.

The inaugural summit was a partnership between YMCA Victoria and VicHealth.

Both organisations have talked about creating other opportunities for young people and adults to talk about mental health and wellbeing.