Daniel's mental health story

"I moved three years ago when I was 17. I have been experiencing anxiety and stress since I was a teenager. I was very anxious and shy, and I couldn’t speak to people properly, I couldn’t look at people. The simplest things, like going down to the shops and picking up groceries or something, would feel like running the gauntlet. It was very nerve-racking, but at the time I didn’t have access to any mental health services.

I had issues with my dad, and he was always pushing me to be perfect. He had a narrow-minded point of view on mental health. He told me I just needed to 'man up and keep working on it yourself'... My school work got affected and I was so anxious and nervous I couldn’t ask for help. I felt very trapped.

I ended up venting about my dad to a friend’s mother. She spoke to my dad, and we had a huge fight, and he kicked me out. I was in the middle of my HSC, and had to move to my mum’s house... Doing the HSC and dealing with Centrelink... just ramped everything. It was a tense time. My mum heard about a youth mental health service...and sort of said 'why don’t you try this out, it might help'...

I met Nicki, who is one of the youth workers there... she was able to get me to see a mental health worker. Stan, who is my current mental health worker, goes over deep-breathing exercises, but he also says 'oh, why do you feel like this?' I’ve had a few issues with my dad up until recently. We were sort of estranged for a little bit, and he and Kirsty, who was the lady who worked there previously, said 'well, you’ve just got to sort of talk to him and approach him as an adult'... With their help, I managed to confront my dad and just say this is what’s been going on my whole life'. Now we’re getting along, so it’s really good.

"We’re all equal and it doesn’t matter what you identify as or who you are."

Only having 10 sessions a year is frustrating at times. A youth worker is good, but it would be nice sometimes to talk to someone more professional, as I might have a really big thing. If I hadn’t had Kirsty and Stan I don’t think I'd have resolved the issues with my dad quite as well. A couple of years ago I got mugged and it really ramped up my stress and anxiety problems... My mum had been frantic trying to get me into a psychologist, but I came to the youth mental health service the day after the mugging and had a long talk with Nicki, and she helped me through it...

Nicki introduced me to a gay, lesbian and transgender group, which is now an all-inclusive youth group... If someone’s had family issues, or they’ve just had a rough week we’re all there to talk with each other...

A lot of us are still in the closet and we haven’t told our problems to anyone because of that, so it is good to come in and know that you’re welcome, it’s a safe place... We’re all equal and it doesn’t matter what you identify as or who you are. When I came out I was really nervous because I didn’t know how everyone would respond. But it was really good because nobody treated it like it was a big deal, they were all supportive. I struggled with social skills but broadening my horizons and finding out I could actually be pretty good in a conversation was good. I just needed support to do it. I like that part of the youth mental health service and I think the other part is the people are really friendly, they treat you as a person and don’t put you in a box."

To read Daniel's full story or to download a copy, click here.

*Names and photograph changed to protect privacy. The views and opinions in these stories do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW PHN, and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by COORDINARE. COORDINARE is not responsible for negligence or otherwise for any damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in these stories.

Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you are in need of immediate assistance.

For other mental health concerns, visit headtohealth.gov.au or talk to someone you trust such as a doctor or health professional.