A connected community where young people, their families & businesses are supported in their wellbeing journeys.
A Path To Follow provides customised and flexible wellbeing support to young people, their families and to small businesses.
We support young people through one-on-one mentoring partnerships and group mentoring programs in sporting and recreational settings.
We help families through tailored peer support.
We assist small businesses with mentoring and education.
A Path to Follow was established by Kirstie Edwards, inspired by her experiences with mental health challenges, both personally and professionally. Kirstie experienced depression as a young person and then again as a new parent. She has just the right mix of professional and lived experience in mental health to support those experiencing related challenges. She says of her experiences:
‘My journey mirrors thousands of others. It includes stories of immense support, of great love and encouragement to get better. But also of struggles against stereotypes and stigma; about depression, about medications, about what people living with mental health challenges can actually achieve, feel and experience in life’.
Kirstie has a background in managing professionals in mental health, family and allied health services. Her experience ranges from supporting services to children and young people to adults and all client families. Her experience includes supervising and leading clinicians in a range of health services. With expertise in assessing risk to self, to others and family violence, Kirstie takes threats to life seriously. Kirstie has experience in the development and implementation of the Child Safe Standards, consults for agencies in this area and holds the Child and Young Persons’ Safety Officer at Ormond JFC.
Kirstie has been outspoken and candid about her own journey. She would like to see a world where there is no stigma associated with experiencing or seeking support for mental health challenges. She would like to see a world where prevention and early intervention of mental health challenges is prioritised, for all community.
A Path To Follow started in 2010, as a small volunteer initiative, and has organically grown over the years to be launched as a small business in late 2019. Her very first volunteer event was a celebration to thank her community for their support in her recovery from depression. With the support of family and friends, $1000 was raised for SANE Australia.
Since that event, Kirstie has focused her passion to positively impact youth mental health. This was borne from Kirstie’s personal desire to ensure her boys, and other young people like them, grow up as part of a community where professional and personal support is readily available and engagement with such support not stigmatised.
In 2014 Kirstie raised near $10,000 for the Early in Life Mental Health Services (ELMHS) at Monash Health. ELMHS is a service where young people who are experiencing emotional, behavioural or mental ill health can receive service. Unfortunately, like most public health services, ELMHS remains chronically underfunded. The key fundraising activity was a ‘Heal thru Art’ art exhibition and auction supported by the donations of local artists. The donation provided necessary sensory equipment to support the recovery of young people.
Kirstie was further impassioned when her middle son, at the age of 16 in 2017, lost two classmates to death by suicide within 12 months. He then experienced severe anxiety and depression and was hospitalised. Their experience of the mental health system, at all levels, left their son further traumatised. It set them on a battle they are, as a whole family, still finding challenging today.
Kirstie’s long-term goal has always been to establish a mental health model using lived experience and like age peer support. A model that offers services in prevention, early intervention and customised support. Motivated by long wait lists for those very few mentor programs in the area, the current limitations of our mental health system to support families and the unique needs of young people when it comes to mental wellbeing support, APTF’s four program streams were developed.
Group Mentoring Program- Principles of Prevention and Early Intervention
Youth Mentoring Partnerships-Principles of Early Intervention
Family Peer Support- Principles of customised and flexible service response
Business Wellbeing Support- Principles of Prevention and Early Intervention