“I remember that when I was at school, teachers wanted to help me, but they didn’t really know what to do and sometimes it became awkward,” she says.
“At that time none of us knew I had depression, all we knew was that I was experiencing difficulties – crying during practice exams and not handing in assignments.”
Ange has been working through her mental illness and says it is her anxiety, rather than her depression, that creates the bigger challenge.
She’s found that there is a huge shortage of information about mental illness for young people (16–25 years), especially information that she thinks they would want to pick up and read.
“For people my age that means if you are experiencing mental distress, you might think it is not an issue for young people and that you are the only one experiencing mental health issues.”
Ange believes it is critical that young people feel comfortable talking about their mental illness.
“If you can’t talk about it, you feel lost and confused,” she says. “If you can connect with others, though, you realise you are not alone.”
According to Ange, discrimination is closely linked to a lack of understanding about what mental illness is and how people can help.
“If you are the person watching the person experiencing mental distress, then you don’t know what they are thinking, or what is going on – the young person doesn’t know what is happening to them either – and you both end up feeling confused.”
“Sometimes the simplest things help the most,” she says.
“One thing my nana did was getting me physically active in the Christmas holidays after I had been diagnosed. It made me feel better, and gave me something to do.
“You don’t have to go out of your way, you just have to be available for a chat when they are ready, and say so. Don’t expect changes too soon. It can often take a long time for people to recover from mental illness. Be patient.”