#ChatStarter connects, engages, and promotes the benefits of supportive conversations with young people and children who are going through a difficult time right now.

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2020 was difficult, however 2021 is proving to be even more difficult and is having a significant impact on the mental health of our children, young people, and their parents. Australia has entered a new wave of uncertainty with some states in lockdown and increased restrictions across the country. This has resulted in sustained high or very high levels of distress with increasing demand on mental health service provision. The evidence shows that this has increased mental distress and mental health challenges in the community and exacerbated the severity of symptoms for children and young people living with a mental illness, with a direct impact on those who care for them.

Chat StarterTo help build self-confidence, and to increase self-agency and help-seeking among children, young people, and their parents, #ChatStarter was developed by the National Mental Health Commission in partnership with parents and young people who have experience of mental health challenges, and Australia’s national mental health organisations who specialise in supporting children, young people and parents - ReachOut, Butterfly Foundation, Orygen, batyr, headspace, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline.

#ChatStarter recognises just how critical conversations are in identifying when someone is going through a difficult time before they reach crisis point and connecting them to right type of care. There are a number of great programs and resources encouraging chats and conversations about mental health in different ways.

However, talking may not necessarily be the best way to ‘start a conversation’. Sometimes engaging in fun, creative, and productive activities together can transcend barriers to conversation, build trust and help create safe spaces for people to talk about how they’re feeling, and the kind of support they need.

#ChatStarter connects, engages, and promotes the benefits of supportive conversations with young people and children who are going through a difficult time right now.
Developed in response to the challenge of pandemic restrictions and the increasing impacts these are having on the mental health of children and young people, #ChatStarter intentionally encourages people to use the tips and resources freely available to help them have supportive conversations, and to share and promote the benefits with their communities online.

#ChatStarter works by encouraging young people, parents, and their children, to share the ways they enjoy connecting with each other across social media, linking their audiences to a library of tools and resources to support those around them at www.headtohealth.gov.au.
#ChatStarter provides young people and parents with a single point of access to free evidence-based resources already developed by the mental health sector. It has been designed to complement existing supports available, to boost confidence in the benefits of having these conversations and supporting someone you are concerned for, while creating an additional layer of support within our home and community.

The reality is parents are already concerned about their children’s wellbeing and young people are having conversations with each other about their fears and worries. #ChatStarter helps parents and young people feel more confident in having conversations by providing them easy access to tools and resources specific to their age and increasing awareness of the benefits of these supportive conversations.

To access these tool, visit the dedicated Head to Health webpage.

You can also download and share our #ChatStarter Resources below.

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  • Children & family
  • Support

Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.