Logan’s Grace Sholl, 20, lives with generalised anxiety disorder and when she was a teenager, she reached out to Headspace for support.
“Headspace saved my life when I was 14, my GP referred me and it completely changed the course of my life in the best way,” she said.
Now, as a Youth National Reference Group member in Meadowbrook, the Suicidology Masters student shares her lived experiences to improve the lives of other young people.
“When I sought help I had no idea what to expect; no one in my family ever had mental health support, it wasn’t like it was talked about.
“I was also very confronted when I was living with depression and had just started studying psychology, and the way they summed up depression in the textbook was not representative of my experiences at all.
“Now, as young people, we have said; you need to be working hand in hand with us.”
In her role with Headspace, Miss Sholl advocates for youth mental health issues and uses her firsthand experiences to shape the services developed for young people.
“It’s about ensuring that young people are heard every step of the way and that the service they receive is designed for them.
“We’ve developed a webinar for GPs to educate them on how to respond to suicide.
“We not only advise on how suicide affects young people in different ways but we also speak as part of the webinar, so GPs can actually hear from a young person and from their perspective.”
The 20-year-old is also tasked with ensuring all clinicians are “youth appropriate” in Headspace’s Early Career Program– designed to help train professionals to specialise in Youth Mental Health.
Despite progress being made, Miss Sholl says there is “still a lot of stigma” surrounding youth mental health that needs to be addressed.
“The stigma is certainly better than when I first started my journey, but I’ve met older people who have this perception that young people just don’t have resilience, and I really don’t think that’s the case.
“There’s constant exams that young people are subjected to, or there’s social media where kids are comparing themselves constantly.
“There’s a lot of pressure on young people to succeed and in a world where it’s very difficult to afford rent or for students to find permanent work; I think young people are incredibly resilient.”
“There’s also this perception that if you look fine, you are fine, but depression is not a one size fits all.”
Miss Sholl says no matter what your economic circumstances you can experience poor mental health.
“It has been difficult the past few years because there’s been less permanent positions, there’s been a rise in casual work that is unstable, and that can cause more anxiety for young people.
“We’ve had a lot of world changes, and I think everyone is feeling it.
“But I think we’re starting to adapt; it’s just about giving young people resources to learn how to manage what’s happening in their own heads.”