We all have a story that is so incredibly important - a story that is completely unique. Too often our stories go without an audience. Maybe we present a side of our story that we think people will accept; a side of us we think people want to see. Because of this, there are often parts of our story that go unseen and untold.
It is National Suicide Prevention Week, a day where we remember those whose stories ended too soon. Today, and every day, is also an opportunity to share a piece of your story. It is an invitation to be courageous and share something that, maybe up until this point, has been without an audience. Today is a chance to ask those around us how they are doing, and to actually allow for the space and time to hear the real answer.
Mental health issues have touched many young Australians. According to Beyond Blue, 1 in 4 young people struggle with a mental health condition. This alone is staggering; however an even more shocking statistic is that within this, 80% of males and 70% of females are not accessing services or professional help. These are more than statistics and numbers - they are lives. And they show us that there are a large proportion of young people struggling with mental health issues who are not receiving help.
There is a lot of stigma that surrounds mental health issues. I have the privilege of running seminars with high school students around this topic, and I look specifically at the reasons we don’t reach out for help. Towards the start of the seminar, after I have made some jokes about red heads (I am one, which means I am allowed to make such jokes), I ask students to close their eyes. I then ask them to keep their eyes closed and raise their hand if they know someone, or have personally, been affected by depression, anxiety, self-injury and suicide.
When I ask them to keep their hands up and open their eyes, I find that often, three quarters of the students have their hands up. There is always astonished looks on their faces, as many simply did not realise that others are struggling or know someone that is.
Maybe you would be someone putting your hand up. Maybe you are struggling. Maybe you know someone who is.
These heavy issues have touched many of us in different ways. The reality is, you simply don’t have to struggle alone.
You are not alone.
You matter very much.
You cannot be replaced.
Your story deserves an audience.
Today is an opportunity to invite someone in your life into the vulnerable parts of your story. You don’t have to struggle alone. This is a moment where you can give those closest to you the opportunity to share their story. Don’t underestimate the power and impact you can have on someone when you lend them a listening and judgement-free ear.
“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brene Brown
Joel Taylor is the Director of Gravity Tour, a nominee for Young Australian of the Year 2014 and a previous intern at To Write Love On Her Arms. To find out more information about Gravity Tour, check out their website here.
- Go to the 'FIND HELP' page, to access support near you
- Share our WSPD posts on social media this week and spread the word
- Place this poster up around your school and workplace
- Order our WSPD pack to share the message of hope with your friends
- Let someone you trust know you would like to take some time with them, sharing your story and hearing theirs. Set a day and time to catch up.