Mental Health Australia Future Leader - Monique | Fintona Girls' School

Mental Health Australia Future Leader - Monique

12 August 2020

Year 11 student, Monique, has sucessfully become a Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) Future Leader. The Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) has established the Australian Future Leaders Program (AFLP). The purpose of the AFLP is to engage students to help promote the message of ‘better mental health for all’ within school communities. This is achieved by participating in Mental Health Month 2020 and Future Leaders, like Monique, assisting to promote the fact that ‘mental health matters’ amongst their peers.

We congratulate Monique on this achievement and know that her contribution to the Program will be extremely worthwhile and valued. We recently asked Monique some questions about her new role and the importance of mental health. Here is what she had to say:

What is the MHFA Future Leaders Program?

The program is comprised of a group of young people aged 12-19 to spread the message of ‘better mental health for all’ in Australia and within our communities. We are also involved in some events throughout National Mental Health Month.

What are your responsibilities as a MFHA Future Leader?

My main responsibilities are to attend meetings and discuss issues that young people face surrounding mental health, help plan events, attend these events, and raise awareness about these specific issues.

What inspired you to apply to be a MHFA future leader?

My personal experiences with mental health was the main inspiration for me to apply for this. I know that it is often really hard to speak out when you are struggling with your mental health, and this is often to do with the judgement and stigma that is attached to mental illness (and mental wellness in general). From my experience, having others be open, is such a supportive and reassuring way to push you towards asking for help. The smallest acts can make such a difference, both for the better and the worse, and I think that being a part of this is a small way for me to spread these messages and hopefully help others going through rough patches.

Why is mental health important?

Mental health is incredibly important in every aspect of life because it can have such a significant impact on one’s quality of life and happiness, functionality and behaviour. Everyone has mental health, just as much as everyone has physical health, and because of this universality, it is important to both look after one’s mind and body and to speak up about mental health. Every time someone opens up or supports someone who may be struggling, the stigma that is attached to mental health, especially mental ill health, is combatted. This can save lives.

How have you looked after your mental health during 2020? And do you have any advice for other students to maintain good mental health, especially at the moment?

In the current climate, and in general, I think it is important to focus on taking everything one day at a time. I find it helpful to not categorise days as ‘good days’ or ‘bad days’, and rather simply as days wherein you feel different emotions and experience different situations. It is highly likely that there are both positives and negatives to each day, and the best way for me to look after myself is to embrace those positives while accepting and reflecting upon the negatives.

If it does become too difficult to do this, prioritising self-compassion and reaching out for help, even if it is hard to do so, is incredibly useful and beneficial to your mental health. If schoolwork gets too much to handle at the time, speaking to teachers and counsellors about your situation is imperative and will prove helpful in the long run. Teachers are there to help you, but they can’t if they don’t know what is going on.