Bishop Vincent launches campaign of hope and care amidst youth mental health crisis

By Christina Gretton, 13 September 2021
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta at ACYF Perth. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


Bishop Vincent Long’s concern for the mental health crisis affecting young people who have suffered during the stringent lockdown, particularly those in the hardest-hit Western Sydney LGAs of concern, has resulted in a new campaign “With You”.

Launched on RU OK? Day with a pastoral letter from Bishop Vincent, Bishop of Parramatta, to all young people, the collaborative, inter-agency response includes creative workshops, a walking challenge, videos and a new website to support young people’s resilience and hope.

In his pastoral letter to launch the campaign, Bishop Vincent writes:

“Like you, I have been locked down for almost 12 weeks and my balcony, with its small makeshift garden, has become an intimate place of respite from the concrete walls of my building. I want to let you know that I have been thinking deeply about the situation we share.”

He empathises with young people over the many milestones important to young people which have been experienced differently, or not at all, because of the lockdown. He encourages hope, reminds them of their resilience and a range of measures they can take for their own wellbeing including talking with others and regular exercise.

“We have so much to look forward to together,” he tells them.

This week’s creative workshops to build connection

Every day from 13-18 September, 6.30 to 7.30pm the Catholic Youth Parramatta is hosting free online LIFTED Studio Sessions led by talented locals.

Sessions include:

  • Spoken Word with Ian Escandor, local Western Sydney Rapper
  • Camera Phone Filming & Editing with James Madry, Videographer
  • Tiktok Dance Tutorial with Larissa Prested, Primary School Teacher, CEDP
  • Blogging Reflections with Raimie Caramancion, MET – Parramatta
  • Song Writing with Tommy Francisco, Singer Songwriter
  • Photography Essentials with Sonia Quintero, USA, Catholic Photographer with 24k Instagram followers

Find the full program and register for free at

The LIFTED Creative Sessions start 13 September on a range of topics relevant to young people’s expression. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

30 for 30 challenge connects through walk and prayer 

In addition to the free workshops, Catholic Youth Parramatta is almost halfway through the ‘30 for 30’ challenge encouraging young people to walk 30minutes a day focusing on a single prayer intention. Over 100 members of the Diocese have signed up and are posting photos and reflections of their daily walks on a closed Facebook group. Register at

Manager of Catholic Youth Parramatta, Qwayne Guevara has heard alarming stories from youth ministers in the Diocese demonstrating the need to create safe spaces where youth could be seen and heard safely.

“Young people are staying in their rooms and not leaving, even after their schoolwork is finished,” she says. “As lockdown continues, and their physical movement and connections are restricted they are becoming increasingly passive users of online content, as each day becomes a repetition of the day before.

“They are losing motivation, and don’t have a space to reflect and express what they are feeling.”

“Our workshops aim to tap into young people’s creativity, help them express their feelings and hopefully bring them joy and something to look forward to.”

‘With You’ website

Following recent media reports of over 40 children and young people presenting themselves to emergency departments with mental health issues, a new website ‘With You’ has also been launched. James Camden, Head of Mission Engagement in the Diocese described its design to offer ‘fast links to the best youth mental health services, handy tools such as a free Telstra public phone locater, videos and more’.

“Counsellors from CatholicCare Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, together with Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, and staff from the Mission Enhancement Team in the Diocese have all contributed to ensuring the content and functionality would meet the needs of not only young people, but those that want to support them in these times of crisis,” James said

The Diocese hopes that by building a campaign off the back of RU OK? Day with a variety of initiatives, more young people will be reached, realise they are not alone, and that their Church really wants to support them.

“We want to be able to reach the young people who are naturally less likely to reach out and connect,” says Qwayne. “We want them to know that we care, and that we are with them.”

 The ‘With You’ website for young people in the Diocese of Parramatta can be found at It will continue to be added to, so users are invited to revisit regularly.

The LIFTED Studio Sessions of creative workshops for young people start tonight and run every day through to 18 September 2021. Find the full program and register for free at

Register for the CYP 30 by 30 Challenge of 30 minute walks and prayer intentions at

Read Daily
* indicates required