Mental Health, COVID19, Media release 2 minute read

How Smiling Mind put preventative Mental Health care on the map

There is perhaps no greater challenge than to start something out of nothing. 

Ten years ago, this is exactly the challenge Smiling Mind’s founders, Jane Martino and James Tutton, faced when they saw a need to improve the state of Australia’s mental health. Instead of seeking solutions to support in times of crisis, they were inspired to get to the root of mental wellbeing and come up with one of the world’s first tech-based preventative mental health programs. 

Today Smiling Mind is considered to be a world leader in the pre-emptive mental health space and Australia’s expert on youth-based mindfulness-based social and emotional learning programs. We pride ourselves on pioneering innovative ways to support mental wellbeing across all our programs, reaching more than 7 million people worldwide to date.

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It takes bold action and innovation to change things for the better and we’re proud to work with some of the boldest! 

Gandel Foundation is one of those supporters - they believed in Smiling Mind in our infancy and have worked with us each step of the way - and we are delighted to share the news with you that together, we have won the Philanthropy Australia 2021 Bolder Philanthropy award.

When Gandel Foundation first invested in Smiling Mind, it was little more than an idea. But they saw the vision and innovation of Smiling Mind, and a clear connection to their desire to support youth mental health in a different way.

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Now, with Gandel Foundation’s support, Smiling Mind has scaled its schools programs from a handful of teachers to reaching more than 190,000 educators using the programs in 2020, with more than 5.5 million children and young people reached since its beginnings. By focusing on the next generation, together we have laid the foundation for a world where every mind has the chance to thrive.

While the journey we have been on to get Smiling Mind to where it is today has been challenging at times, there is also no greater joy than to see that vision become a reality. However, our work is far from over. 

The pandemic has exposed an incredible increase in the need for services like ours. For those of us on the front lines, the only way to describe what we are seeing is a mental health crisis. We have been busier than ever over the last two years, working not just to keep our current services available for free for those who desperately need them, but it is becoming more and more difficult to grow our services at the rate required to match demand. 

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Our partners are the bedrock of our success. With them, we have grown from a simple idea to a world leading mental health prevention program. Without them, Smiling Mind would not be what it is today.

Now is the time to think about mental health and wellbeing differently, to take a proactive approach and ensure we all look after our mental health in the same way we know we need to proactively look after our physical health. 

Dr Addie Wootten

Written by Dr Addie Wootten

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