Mikaela Graham's mindful approach to trying chief role at YMCA Ballarat

EXPERIENCE: YMCA Young CEO for a Day Mikaela Graham focused on identifying gaps in the organisation's programs and workforce to improve mental health. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
EXPERIENCE: YMCA Young CEO for a Day Mikaela Graham focused on identifying gaps in the organisation's programs and workforce to improve mental health. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

IMPROVING youth mental health and well-being was top of Mikaela Graham’s agenda at YMCA Ballarat. 

Ms Graham made sure to lead by example on Friday.

All staff took part in a guided mindfulness session, the first time they had tried the technique in the workplace, with Ms Graham as YMCA young chief executive officer for the day.

The 29-year-old led a series of meetings to try and identify gaps across the city in youth mental health. Ms Graham also looked over projects briefs to make sure ways to improve mental health was a consideration.

I've really wanted to have a mental health focus...I'm really keen to make a lasting impact. After today, hopefully these discussions will carry forward

Mikaela Graham, YMCA young CEO for a day

YMCA Young CEO for the Day was a nationwide initiative, enabling young people aged 18 to 30, a chance to experience leadership. The move, as part of National Youth Week, reflects the organisation’s mission to empower inspired young people to positively impact their communities.

Ms Graham worked with YMCA Ballarat chief Kate Phillips at her side, stepping into an executive assistant role.

While there were perks, like Ms Phillips buying her lunch, the experience also gave Ms Graham a bigger picture look into the organisation. Her usual day job is a recreational officer for the YMCA, including coordinating Pyrenees outdoor pools the past three summers.

Ms Graham is keen to keep working to implement mental health first aid training for manager qualifications to help support and identify the need for support among young people in their programs.

YMCA Ballarat chief Kate Phillips was happy to share her role for the day, helping Ms Graham to find a voice, and found she learned plenty in return.

“There are so many reasons this has been fantastic, but importantly, it is bringing to life empowering young people and, for me, putting into practice why we are a youth-informed organisation,” Ms Phillips said. 

YMCA Ballarat provides a programs for all ages in the community.

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