words by: tara wesson // photography by: micha birkby

In a nutshell, One Eighty is a bunch of twenty-somethings looking out for their mates on the beaches. The charity does mental health care and awareness a little differently, with a focus on youth suicide prevention. 

One Eighty began as a response to youth suicides in the Avalon area. Founder Paris Jeffcoat lost a close friend to suicide, who was the second in her year group at Barrenjoey High, to succumb to mental illness in this way. Mental health became a talking point in the community, but Paris found there was a gap in services that were local, and that spoke to young people directly. The impetus became visibility, both amongst young people themselves as well as community fundraising, where locals could see clearly where the money was being used. 

More and more, mental health has moved to the forefront of discussion on the Northern Beaches in recent years as we’ve seen an increase in suicides, but now, an increase in awareness to combat that. One Eighty has been a spearheading group in their promotion of mental health services. 

Paris says it definitely seems that the community is becoming much more susceptible to conversations around mental health, becoming better educated in the services and organisations working in the area. 

As for what’s changed the most since One Eighty started, Paris believes it’s the community’s willingness to come together and support the cause. Whether it’s fundraisers, local businesses or Pub2Pub teams, we’re feeling more mobilised to give back to charities, as well as feeling like we have a degree of agency over the mental health issues the community faces. Fundraisers like this spread the word about mental health and mental health care, as well as One Eighty as an organisation. 

One Eighty’s main focus for now is building their online platform, trying to reach a wider audience as that’s where young people spend most of their time. 

“We have a really unique opportunity to fill that gap, because One Eighty is run and led and was founded by young people. The online space is kind of our second home, we know how to use it,” says Paris. 

“We know how to leverage the opportunities that come with that to really support young people, make sure they’re getting a better education in terms of mental health literacy.”

One Eighty plans to expand their Open Up program, as Paris says she sees it really taking off in the next few years. The aim, she explains, is to be a strong organisation operating not only in the online space, but funding and implementing local projects too.

One Eighty has a team in the upcoming Lifeline Classic, and fifty percent of funds raised will be going toward One Eighty initiatives. They’re also funding Tomorrow Man events; on March 14 in Collaroy and May 8 in Avalon.

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