Lismore girls give back to headspace

4 September 2016
Three young women explain why they volunteer for mental health service provider headspace. Video: Jacqueline Munro

Three young headspace volunteers are selflessly giving back to other young people in need. 

Megan, Lauren and Lizz are three young women involved in headspace Lismore's youth advisory group. 

headspace is part of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and provides mental health services to young people aged 12- to 25-year-olds. 

The youth advisory group gives young people the chance to have their say in what services headspace provides.

The group also plans and takes part in youth events. 

Each became involved in volunteering with headspace after accessing the organisation's mental health and counselling services. 

Being able to "give back" and helping others is the collective reason why the three women enjoy volunteering. 

During her school years, 21-year-old Megan struggled with anxiety and depression, and it was while visiting a headspace counsellor in Lismore, that she learned about the organisation's youth advisory group.

From there, she started volunteering her time.

Her mother suffers from an acquired brain injury, while her stepfather suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Megan continues to care for her parents, while also volunteering her time to headspace.

"I like that I can help other young people."

After being helped by headspace herself, Lauren, 22, also decided to start volunteering with the youth advisory group.

She was convinced to apply by her youth access clinician (YAC).

"I think you should do it, I think you should do it," is what her YAC told her.

"So I did," she smiled.

To "give her opinion" and to "talk" is all she has to do to help as part of the advisory group.

As if 24-year-old Lizz’s life wasn’t busy enough studying primary and early childhood education at Southern Cross University, she also volunteers her spare time to multiple organisations.

"Most of the volunteering I do is things that have impacted me," she said.

"I choose things that are close to my heart."

As an SCU student, she mentors first year students as well as giving her spare time to local schools.

She volunteers as part of Relay For Life, a Cancer Council event, as she has had family members impacted by cancer so she "wanted to give back to them".

But her most notable volunteering is as part of headspace Lismore’s youth advisory group.

"I volunteer for headspace because I’ve accessed headspace," she said.

All three young women "would love" other young people to volunteer.

"If you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back. But definitely give it a go," Megan said.

Lauren enjoys being part of the group, and believes that everyone should volunteer, especially young people.

"It’s awesome being part of a group and to have your voice be heard."

Lizz believes young people gain respect for their community by volunteering, while their community will also respect them.

"As a young person, before volunteering, I didn’t realise how much volunteering helped in the community," she said.

A 2010 Volunteering Australia survey shows that 27 percent of young people aged from 18 to 24 volunteer their time. 

While 18-24 year olds tend to volunteer less than other age groups, Volunteering Australia notes that the percentage of youth volunteers has increased from 16 percent in 1995.

With youth volunteering on the rise, there is hope that there will be many more stories like the ones from these wonderful headspace young women. 

Related story: Few do it but volunteering 'invaluable' to youth