David Rooney - September 2022

Many hands make right work: Meet 20talk

After losing two mates to suicide and struggling with his own mental illness, Leighton decided to make a difference. He wanted to ensure something like this didn't happen again and started 20talk in 2018. 20talk is a mental health charity for young people, by young people. 

20talk Charity Founder Leighton Bradfield with Lockie O'Donoghue Co-founder. Boring Without You, Skincare that talks.

Pictured: 20talk founder Leighton Bradfield (Left) and co-founder Lockie O'Donoghue (right)

Q) Tell us about 20talk. What do you do and what services do you provide?

A) 20talk uses a peer-to-peer model, meaning all of our content is built from young people with lived experience.

The charity itself is broken into three core pillars: Media, Events and Resources. We noticed a lot of young people spend hours on their phones, so we decided to leverage existing social media platforms to provide mental health campaigns that empower, educate and inspire young adults. In addition to our media, we run large-scale events at bars and pubs with the aim of reaching vulnerable target groups who would not normally interact with mental health material. This has been a huge success, with over 20 events held in the Perth area.

Finally, 20talk is a mental health first aid provider that delivers crisis first aid courses to young people who would not typically be afforded the opportunity due to financial constraints.

Q) What inspired you to start 20talk?

A) Apart from our own personal journeys with mental health. The inspiration for the charity came out of the structural injustice we observed in the mental health industry.

Only 2% of corporate/government funding reaches prevention organisations and industry leaders often fail to connect to young people in a relatable way. There's plenty of great education out there, but there's no point in having it if it can't be delivered in a language that young adults understand.

Q) What is one massive goal you have?

A) There's an endless number of goals we want to achieve, and I could spend all day getting excited about this question. With that in mind, sometimes it's better just to focus on the product offering and master it. Our goal is to be a fun, vulnerable online education platform that young people can rely on to enhance their mental health understanding. Being a leader in the field wouldn't hurt either, but everyone has that goal.

Q) What is the most memorable thing that has happened since starting 20talk?

A) The most memorable moments are the recognition we receive from our followers, volunteers, and partners. Having built strong relationships with these groups over the years, it's powerful to hear how we are actually improving their mental health outcomes.

20talk Charity group shot. Young people sitting around on couches. Boring Without You, Skincare that talks.

Q) What's something we can do today to improve the mental health of young Aussies and Kiwis?

A) Mental health is a broad term that covers many areas including wellbeing and mental illness. Every person's situation is different and requires different approaches from these categories.

Widely speaking, focus on your fundamentals first – strong relationships, direction, sleep, diet, and exercise habits build a foundation for self-development.

After that, you need to start building a curious mindset about mental health education. Don't focus on the mental health goal, focus on the small steps that create a process. When you break your learning down into smaller goals, it gives you even more motivation to improve.

For example, don't set a goal of wanting perfectly intimate relationships – make the process of positively framing your interactions the focus. Both people in strong relationships and ones without them have the goal of intimate relationships, but only one of these made the process the focus.

Q) What resources or tools can you recommend to help with mental health?

- Mental Illness GP/Psychologist and counsellors
- Mental health first aid course
- Lived experience videos on 20talk Wellbeing
- Find a mentor in a field you are interested in – work to understand that field
- Voice of health (website/app)
- Start writing a journal. 

Q) How can people donate to 20talk?

A) Our 20talk Raisely account.