Preventing mental illness before it starts is at the heart of a bold new partnership spearheaded by Smiling Mind and bolstered with a $3.6 million investment from DECJUBA Foundation over three years. Smiling Mind is Australia’s leading children’s mental health not-for-profit and the innovators behind Australia’s most trusted mental wellbeing app, of the same name, and DECJUBA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of leading Australian fashion retailer, DECJUBA.
DECJUBA CEO and Philanthropist Tania Austin said, “This investment is DECJUBA Foundation’s largest to date and is significant within the broader philanthropy sector. We are funding Smiling Mind to do what they do best; deliver preventative and proactive mental health initiatives for Australian children and families.”
Together, Smiling Mind and DECJUBA Foundation will launch an initiative called The Smiling Mind Generation, a social movement providing Australian children, parents and school communities with mental health and wellbeing resources and tools designed to build and maintain their mental fitness anytime, anywhere. Building mental fitness in childhood can provide protective factors and coping mechanisms to navigate the tumultuous years of adolescence.
Smiling Mind CEO, Dr Addie Wootten said, “Smiling Mind has an ambitious mission to create generational change in Australia’s mental health. We believe the only way to turnaround the mental health crisis we are facing is to empower a generation of Australian children with the skills to thrive and look after their mental wellbeing which can help prevent mental health challenges later in life. We are so grateful DECJUBA Foundation has decided to partner with us to help achieve this.”
Australian children’s mental health and wellbeing isn’t regularly measured. The last time a national survey was taken in 2014, 1 in 7 Australian children and adolescents aged 4-17 were experiencing mental illness. Today, 7 out of 10 of the most common presentations to paediatricians are related to mental health needs, yet despite this, evidence suggests 50% of children with mental health challenges don’t access professional help.
“It was confronting to discover how prevalent childhood mental illness is in Australia and how little is invested in preventing it. I am committed to shifting Australia's mental health conversation to be about health rather than illness and prevention rather than crisis.” Tania Austin said.
50% of all adult mental health issues emerge before the age of 14 and over the past 15 years, there has been a 50% increase in the rate of mental illness in Australian youth. Despite the evidence that our current system is failing children and young people, there are no accessible, engaging and age-appropriate preventative mental health programs for Australian children aged 5-12.
Dr Addie Wootten said, “Smiling Mind has had the vision for The Smiling Mind Generation for a long-time but no avenue to bring it to life. This social movement will put a spotlight on the often overlooked and poorly understood reality of childhood mental illness and provide Australian children and parents with useful resources and tools. DECJUBA Foundation’s investment is supporting us to kickstart this vital work.”
“Australia has invested to raise awareness around the importance of physical activity to combat the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic, the same level of energy must now be invested in ensuring our children have the mental health skills to support mental fitness. Currently less than 1% of government mental health funding is focused on prevention.” Addie said.
“I am excited that philanthropic funding in Australia is evolving towards supporting not-for-profits to do their core work. Not-for-profits can struggle to continue their life changing work when funding opportunities are short-term and tied to specific activities. Investments like the one the DECJUBA Foundation is making in Smiling Mind, makes long-term and sustainable impact possible to achieve.” Addie said.
Tania Austin added, “I want to disrupt traditional philanthropy – we should be supporting organisations doing important work to maintain their core business functions. Partnering with Smiling Mind, an organisation leading innovative and preventative approaches to mental health, is a great fit for the DECJUBA Foundation and our commitment to long-term, meaningful partnerships that create real and sustainable change.”
Jack Health, CEO of Philanthropy Australia – the nation’s peak body for philanthropy, said, “Congratulations to DECJUBA Foundation and Smiling Mind on this exciting partnership. Mental health is such an important issue and philanthropy has a vital, catalytic role to play. This gift also aligns with Philanthropy Australia’s agenda to double giving by 2030 and our vision for a generous and inclusive Australia.”
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About The DECJUBA Foundation
DECJUBA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of leading Australian fashion retailer, DECJUBA. Founded by DECJUBA owner and CEO, Tania Austin, DECJUBA Foundation is committed to transforming lives, helping those in need and creating real, sustainable change. Through long-term meaningful partnerships with charitable organisations, The DECJUBA Foundation will work towards positively impacting 25 million lives by 2025, focusing on five key areas: empowerment, experience, education, essentials and emergency relief.
About Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is Australia’s leading mental health not for profit, engaging children, young people, and their communities with life-long, evidence-based tools to learn essential mental fitness skills. Smiling Mind has over a decade of experience delivering programs and tools that support mental health and wellbeing. Led by Dr Addie Wootten, Smiling Mind’s services are grounded in clinical practice and research, generating positive, generational change to the mental health of Australians. Smiling Mind provides highly accessible and engaging services at the intersection of clinical and digital insights.
About Dr Addie Wootten
Dr Addie Wootten’s experience as a Clinical Psychologist combined with comprehensive knowledge of research and e-health bring both academic expertise and commercial acumen to her role as CEO of Smiling Mind.
A widely-published mental health commentator and highly-regarded speaker, Addie’s leadership and passion for empowering people to take a positive and proactive approach to their own mental health has seen the organisation grow beyond a mindfulness app to become an active part of the mental health ecosystem.
Under Addie’s stewardship, Smiling Mind provides preventative mental health programs that deliver real generational change for Australian families.