HOPEFUL: Holly Blackwell with her mum Tina, who struggled with mental illness for years before taking her own life.
HOPEFUL: Holly Blackwell with her mum Tina, who struggled with mental illness for years before taking her own life. Contributed

'Look for the signs': Teen's plea after tragedy

SHE was nine-years-old when her mum started getting sick, 15 when her mum took her own life, now Holly Blackwell is on a mission of hope.

"Everyday I seem to meet more people that have experienced situations similar to mine and much worse," she said.

"This year alone I have heard of over four people in our community committing suicide. These are people that make up the Sunshine Coast."

The Sippy Downs teen hoped more people would show compassion to people they know who are suffering with a mental illness.

"I would like to see our community not be so judgemental and small-minded when it comes to talking about suicide and mental illness," she told the Daily.

"To understand that every single person is an individual and equal no matter their age, gender colour ... and that it's okay to talk about it."

Her message to the Sunshine Coast community, in which she urged people to stop and think about the impact losing friends and loved-ones to suicide could have, reached hundreds on Facebook.

"Look for signs, tell your family you love them," she said.

"Appreciate every single minute you have with someone because you never know when it'll be your last."

 

Holly and Tina.
Holly and Tina. Contributed

One-in-five Australians will experience mental illness between the ages of 18-65.

Mindpod founder and managing director Rosie Overfield said that meant there was a good chance everyone had someone in their family, friendship group or workplace who would need support.

Ms Overfield, who runs Mental Health First Aid courses, said learning some basic skills for communicating with people in crisis was important.

"Many people notice that their friends and family and colleagues are not okay but they worry about saying the wrong thing so they say nothing," she said.

But Ms Overfield said reaching out for a chat could help people in need seek help sooner and recover faster.

"One of the fears that people have with talking to someone that they think they have a mental health problem is they think that they have to be able to diagnose the person and fix the person, and that is not what mental health first aid is about," she said.

"Its about being confident and competent to reach out to that person.

"A lot of people with mental health problems don't necessary want to go strait to a GP or psychologist straight away.

"A conversation with a trusted friend might be the catalysis for that.

"They can really fill that important space between the developing health problem and seeking help and support."

To find out more about Mental Health First Aid visit mhfa.com.au or mindpod.com.au.

If you or someone you know needs support phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

FIRST AID

  • Mental Health First Aid is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of a mental health problem or developing a crisis.
  • Training teaches people what to say, how to listen with empathy and without judgment.
  • Finding out what resources are available in the area is a key part of the process.

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