Performance Anxiety

Almost a quarter of young Australians struggle with their mental health, says Mission Australia.

“I think my generation, everyone wants to have it all together. If you’re at university, you need to be working a really busy job, you need to be doing really well, you need to have a social life. And so then when you’re not okay, people are shocked and there’s a bit of shame attached to not being okay.”

That’s Michelle Basson, a 20-year-old university student opening up on her experience of mental distress.

Almost a quarter of young Australians struggle with their mental health, according to Can we talk? Seven year youth mental health report, a joint study by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute.

That rise in mental health concerns represents a jump of 5.5 percent over the last seven years, with young women experiencing distress at twice the rate of young men. 

In this episode of Life & Faith, we reflect on the report with Dr Jo Fildes, Head of Research and Evaluation at Mission Australia and psychologist and teacher Collett Smart.

We also speak to Michelle Basson and Nic Newling who grant insight into the pressure cooker environment young people find themselves in today. Both point to a significant source of strength in their lives that buffers from their struggles: for Michelle, God, and for Nic, a sense of purpose and meaning.

“That’s often what the medical model can miss. We look at how we get someone who’s got a mental illness to feel better in some way,” said Nic. 

“Then we often forget, well, then what? Then, what does the life of purpose and meaning look like? That’s often missed.”

Trigger warning: this episode features a story of suicide.

Nic Newling’s mother wrote a gutting memoir about the loss of Nic’s brother: Missing Christopher: A Mother’s Story of Tragedy, Grief, and Love. You can read chapter one here.  

Psychologist Collett Smart’s book is They’ll Be Okay: 15 Conversations to Help Your Child Through Troubled Times

Dr Smart also recommended the following apps: 

Among other things, MoodKit helps you identify and change unhelpful thought patterns.

WorryTime allows you to log your worries in designated worry periods. 

Three Good Things gets you to practice gratitude for what went well today.