Get the right people in the room and magic sometimes happens. Synapses fire, tangents are explored and ideas are developed. And Lifehack is hoping the same is true when it comes to dealing with youth mental health issues.
The new initiative is calling for skilled and creative young New Zealanders interested in using new technologies to help change the way people look at, and deal with, mental health problems. And, in a similar fashion to Start-up Weekend, which gets a bunch of entrepreneurs in the room to come up with new business ideas in 48 hours, young thinkers, doers and change makers with a range of creative, digital and business skills are being asked to put their hands up and get involved in one of four Lifehack Weekends being held around New Zealand in April. Lifehack is also looking for professionals who share its vision to help guide participants through each weekend.
Project director and "chief hustler" Jason Armishaw is heavily involved with Start-up Weekend in New Zealand and he believes there's a need for fresh ideas, real innovation and digital solutions created by young people for young people to improve mental health and wellbeing.
"I believe that youth know youth problems better than anyone else," says Armishaw. "So why not give them a chance to solve them? They are closer to the issues, and they can relate to them on a much deeper and more honest level. Also, young people can and will use the tools they’re already familiar with: digital devices, social media networks and a natural ability to bond with technology in a way that our parents never will."
Over each Lifehack Weekend up to 75 young New Zealanders will come together to dream, scheme and create new solutions using digital technology and new media. The most promising ideas will be funded, coached and supported to help make them a reality.
Eddy Helm, co-director of Curative, an agency that tries to use its powers for social good and works largely with not-for-profits, says it's "a curious project" and it came about as a result of the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Project ($12.2 million over four years) and Social Media Innovation fund ($2 million put aside with the desire for more public-private relationships).
She says Armishaw got wind of the fund and the Ministry of Social Development got wind of him, and they thought the same kind of pressurised entrepreneurial thinking seen in the business world would work in this space as well.
"We believe in co-design and involving the community who you're working for," she says. So Lifehack has already involved the target market to come up with the name and produce the copy.
"It's not just about the comms, it's about producing something," she says.
Helm, who used to work at Running with Scissors, an agency that also believes in the power of "facilitated thinking", says the fact that the best ideas will be fully funded is a tribute to the trust the MSD now has in Armishaw and while this project isn't trying to solve the serious mental illness issues, it is trying to come up with new ways to improve overall mental health. And she says Live More Awesome's world's biggest waterslide project is a good example of the type of thinking it's hoping to inspire (it was developed by Jimmy Hunt, who's on the Lifehack board of advisors).
"As Jimmy says, 'you can't fight depression with something depressing'," Helm says. "So it's definitely about creating more positive energy in this space."
Armishaw says he wants to make these ideas truly viable, so it will be working with the mental health community, high schools and universities around New Zealand to get them tested, implemented, and put into practice.
"And beyond that, we want to tap into our entrepreneurial spirit, and market our greatest resource to the world; our ingenuity, our can-do attitude, and our ability to see challenges, not problems."
Auckland: 29 March 2013
Wellington: 05 April 2013
Christchurch: 12 April 2013
Dunedin: 19 April 2013
LIFEHACKERS SELECTED & ANNOUNCED
Auckland: 02 April 2013
Wellington: 09 April 2013
Christchurch: 16 April 2013
Dunedin: 23 April 2013