Students Light Up Darkest Day Of Year

After learning coping mechanisms for her own mental health, St Peter’s student Zahlia Kelly observed others who were also struggling but shied away from seeking help.

Dealing with your own mental battles is tough, says Zahlia, and it can get tougher hearing about friends or families struggling too.

“Mental health issues are something myself and my family has experienced,” Zahlia said.

“To learn how to cope yourself and how to cope with others can help you and your loved ones.”

Zahlia is a member of the Eurobodalla Council youth committee and Headspace youth reference group. She wanted to see a mental health awareness event in Eurobodalla that was symbolic and meaningful to teenagers. Also, bringing mental health services together to share tips and tricks on how to cope.

She raised her idea to the youth committee and Headspace to hold an event in Moruya on Friday 21 June.

“A winter solstice event from my hometown, Albury, inspired the spark in me to do a Eurobodalla youth version,” Zahlia said.

“They creatively made an event for suicide prevention and mental health on the darkest and shortest day of the year.”

Zahlia and the youth committee got planning. They came up with their own event to light up the darkest night of the year, naming it Winter SOULstice.

They’re inviting young people aged 12 – 24 to put the ‘soul’ in solstice with free activities, live music and food, as well as inspiring talks by local mental health advocates.

“We also had a collaborative idea to make and light lanterns on the night; something we can all do together – light up the darkness as a symbol of hope and strength,” Zahlia said.

Zahlia said mental health is a touchy subject for teens, often hitting close to home with experiences from their own lives or among their friends.

“I would love to see more events on mental health in our area, raising the topic of conversation about how you are feeling,” Zahlia said.

“Having events to promote mental health services is also very helpful, because there’s a lot more support out there than people think.

“There are professionals actively trying to make things better for you – they’re non-judgmental and super friendly.”­

Zahlia and the youth committee have been busy promoting the event this week.

“I am really excited to see something I am so passionate about come to life,” Zahlia said.

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