Ally Collins, 19
I am a passionate member of the Youth Reference Group because I believe mental health problems, especially in younger people, are a big issue in our society and need to be talked about.
Youth Focus does outstanding work and I love being part of an organisation that supports young people who are suffering from mental health issues. When I first joined the YRG, I had limited understanding of the services available. I have found being involved with the group and broader team at various activities throughout the year has made me a more confident person and I have loved getting to know a new group of people.
Ali Pretzel, 20
I joined the Youth Reference Group in 2018 and have really enjoyed it. I love knowing that I can make a difference to young lives!
I am passionate about erasing the stigma that surrounds mental health and I enjoy attending events on behalf of Youth Focus to spread awareness in the community. I, like many others, have suffered with mental health issues but I now use my experiences to show others that things do get better and it’s ALWAYS okay to ask for help.
Amy Gibbs, 18
My connection with Youth Focus started with my dad who is highly involved with the Hawaiian Ride for Youth. Each year I would go and watch as the masses of inspirational adults would fly through the finish line, having just shared their knowledge and personal stories about mental health.
I began to realise just how many people are affected by mental illnesses and that the majority are my age. With it being such a prominent part of society, I wanted to help make a change because it was my friends and family who were being personally affected. The Youth Reference Group (YRG) provides the perfect opportunity for me to play my role in helping these struggling teens. We are the voice for the youth in an organisation which is dedicated to making that change. I am able to see our opinions being put into action, making the monthly YRG meetings completely worth it. Instead of being buried on the sidelines, struggling to give our say, we are up the front speaking loud and clear to an audience who want to listen.
Bree-anna Tilbrook, 19
As a past client of Youth Focus I have found my passion in wanting to help other people.
As a current psychology student at university, being a part of the Youth Reference Group allows me to be more interactive and give me a good platform for my future career.
Joel Weir, 20
As someone who knows how difficult it is to deal with mental illness, I feel that it’s crucial that Youth Focus continues to provide their services all across WA.
Mental health is something I’m incredibly passionate about and by volunteering with Youth Focus, I hope we can not only help to keep our services relevant to the youth of today, but to also help remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
I want people to feel safe and comfortable when talking about their struggles rather than bottling everything in. Whether that be when talking to family, friends, or a professional, I want the people of WA to recognise that it is OK to not be OK.
Lily Philp, 21
I joined the Youth Reference Group (YRG) at a mid-point in my mental health journey. I was still struggling, but beginning to work things out. Writing this, it has been two years since that point, and Youth Focus through the YRG has helped me understand how to treat myself and others.
I’ve also been able to use my own journey and experience to provide feedback on what I think would help others. Everyone's process is different, and having seen high school counselors, and public and private mental health professionals, I’ve learned that there is so often a disconnect between what is being provided and what would actually help. Working with Youth Focus has been really important to me to increase accessibility and engagement of young people with the Youth Focus services. This ‘journey’ isn’t straightforward, nor does it have a set timeline, but as I’ve learned about myself and the services available, Youth Focus has adapted too. The YRG is a really great space to help develop Youth Focus, but it is also a really great space to develop yourself.
Midaiah Harnett, 17
I think recent generations have finally started to see the importance of recognising mental health issues within society, and especially within young people.
However, it’s important not to let this small step be considered “progress” in the sense of thinking the problem is solved, and no longer needs attention or consideration. It’s important as young people to keep fighting for the issues which affect us, and one of those is a poor understanding and acceptance of mental health within the community. When two in three people under the age of 25 have experienced some form of mental illness or struggled significantly with their mental health, we need to be active in spreading the message that this is nothing to be ashamed of; a message of acceptance. I think that’s why I’m passionate; because young people should never feel ashamed, and need to know there are people who will support and accept them through anything. That’s what everyone deserves.
Paige Larsen, 20
Suicide is the leading cause of preventable death here in WA, and working towards fighting this devastating reality is something I am extremely passionate about.
I believe that eradicating the stigma behind mental illness is also so important. So many individuals, especially young people, are facing battles behind closed doors, and are too hesitant to ask for help. I want to promote the message that it’s okay not to be okay, and that organisations like Youth Focus are here to support the youth in our community with whatever struggles they are facing.
Roberto Vitali-Lawn, 18
Mental health is extremely important for anyone from a social or economic perspective.
Your mental health, like any other facet of health, influences your potential and capability to participate in society. Having strong mental health is essential for your wellbeing as a person and is incredibly important especially at an emerging age. Youth Focus is an amazing service that provides free counselling services to young people who are more susceptible to a growing issue that should be dealt with in the community, from the front lines. Personally, I have always been involved with mental health and seen the destruction that being without access to mental health services can cause especially within young people.
Sarah Clack, 20
I am 20 and a student in Youth Work. I find myself to be very passionate about the world that we live in: animals, coffee, the ocean (not sharks though) and traveling.
I’ve been part of Youth Focus since the start of the year and it has been great to meet so many like-minded, creative young people that are all here to support the community and other youth.
Sophie Rasmussen, 17
Youth Focus has always been such an important part of my life growing up.
I was exposed to the organisation through my dad, who was a Board Director from 2003 to 2012. Through seeing his work with Youth Focus and tagging along to events every year I learned more and more about the amazing work Youth Focus does and how much of an issue mental health is in the community.
When I found out about the Youth Reference Group (YRG), I was so excited at the idea of being involved in such an amazing organisation and actually being able to take part in working as part of a team to help young people struggling with their mental health. Mental health is an issue I am extremely passionate about and being apart of the YRG lets me contribute with a group of like-minded people. It is such an awesome group to be a part of!
Tessa Gilson, 18
What makes me happiest is seeing people grow into the best people they can possibly be.
When someone is struggling with their mental health it can prevent all the growth that they are so capable of achieving. I am passionate about being involved with Youth Focus because their services support young people with mental illness so that they can continue to thrive as incredible individuals.
Zac Boase, 18
Our values and beliefs are shaped by our lived experiences and like many people, I feel the need to give back and to help others.
Being a member of the Youth Reference Group (YRG) allows me to give back and help other people in need, at a time when they need it most. It’s this enabling of altruism and the ability to help others as well as be apart of an enthusiastic group with a shared goal that makes me a passionate member of the YRG.
If you are in an emotional crisis and require urgent support, please contact:
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
If you are looking for more information and online support, please refer to the following online resources: