The Scream It Out music festival returns to Hurlstone Agricultural High School for fourth consecutive year on Saturday the 20th of April, with all funds raised donated directly to Headspace Campbelltown.

The festival has been designed as an inclusive, safe space where individuals of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to come and explore all things identity, mental health and self-expression.

What started off in 2021 as a one-off event birthed in musician / schoolteacher Jerry Zahija’s own struggles with identity has now grown into a significant South-West Sydney milestone.

“I know what it’s like struggling with identity. I went through that, coming out as a teen and not knowing who I was,” Mr. Zahiya said.

“Experiencing that myself, as well as being a year advisor at school, you get to know the kids on a more personal level and hear what they’re going through, and I’m hearing that kids can’t express themselves or they are trying to find their identity or there are barriers to that.”

Marking its second year as part of New South Wales’ Youth Week celebrations, Scream It Out has attracted on board Campbelltown City Council and Stephen Edwards Constructions as event sponsors.

Mr Zahija said, “This year we have more sponsors than we have ever had before… having sponsors is awesome because in the first year, I just spent my own money on everything.”

Some of the activities available on the day include live music, raffles, food trucks, workshops, and a panel discussion with representatives from Headspace where attendees will have the opportunity to engage in a Q & A session about mental health.

Jerry Zahija is a musician himself and has recently returned to university to complete his Masters in Music. His current research project investigates how live music can impact on adolescent identity; his passion for music and his care for youth mental health is what has made this event such an ongoing success.

He said, “Maybe Scream It Out can serve as a space where young people find their identity.”

This is the kind of festival Jerry wishes he had the chance to experience as a young person when he was struggling with his identity. He hopes that it helps young people facing similar challenges in their adolescent years.

Scream It Out will also play an important role for families and parents of young people who may not know how to breach the topic of mental illness at home due to ongoing stigmas.

“I want more families to attend and hear the Headspace panels. If I’m assisting with the awareness and education, I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Mr Zahiya said.

“We still have very far to go. I think the problem generally is the kids get it, but it’s the parents that don’t… the kids might recognise they’re going through something and they’re struggling and they might be getting support at school, but as soon as they go home it’s a completely different story.”

Mr. Zahiya hopes Scream It Out can continue to serve as an opportunity to bridge this gap in understanding by de-stigmatising and de-mystifying mental health and mental illness so families are better equipped to support their kids if they are struggling.

Tickets are $20 and proceeds are donated directly to Headspace Campbelltown to help young people aged 12-15 in southwest Sydney access mental health care. You can purchase tickets online through the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/scream-it-out-2024-tickets-815038611427

–  Emily Kaine 

Photos: Matt Bartolo