The founder of Batyr, a not-for-profit organisation that supports university and school students struggling with mental health challenges, Sebastian, turned a personal struggle into a national success story that has reached more than 5,000 young people.
When Sebastian graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Commerce/Economics, he already had a strong portfolio of leadership roles including President of John XXIII College Residents’ Association in 2007, where he lived for three years.
Sebastian battled with mental illness whilst at university, but with support was able to pull through and inspire others with his own experience. Sebastian left a finance job with General Electric in 2010 to found Batyr, which educates students about the ‘elephant in the room’ of Australia’s schools and universities, such as mental health, sexual issues, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and bullying. Batyr aims to foster an environment where seeking help and talking about mental health is not only acceptable, but is encouraged and supported.
In 2012, Batyr held 28 school presentations and reached over 5,000 young people directly with its mental health awareness message. Sebastian and Batyr work closely with John XXIII College and the wider ANU community, and in 2011 Batyr, in association with John XXIII College, founded the ‘Civic to Surf’ fun run from Canberra to Bondi. Participating ANU students raised $35,000 in the name of mental health over the past two years.
Sebastian’s role in making Batyr a successful Australian organisation has brought a number of awards, including the 2012 Richard Walker-Powell Award, the 2011 Sydney Social Entrepreneur of the Year and the 2011 Ku-ring-gai Local Council Youth Week ‘Time to Shine’ Youth Awards. Sebastian was also an Australian Representative at the Global Youth Rising for Peace Summit in 2012 and an Australian Youth Delegate to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in 2011.
Sebastian credits much of his success to his experience at ANU, which provided him with the skills and an active network of like-minded young people that enabled him to found Batyr.