Graduate leads video campaign to make life brighter

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Emma Lawrance in Oxford

A Flinders University graduate, now studying for a PhD at the University of Oxford, is playing a leading role in an international campaign to help young people with mental health issues.

Emma Lawrance, who is studying Clinical Neuroscience, has been volunteering with a small team of students to create the ‘It Gets Brighter’ online platform for sharing short video messages of hope for young people struggling with mental health issues.

A star student, Ms Lawrance graduated from Flinders with a BSc in Chemistry and Physics with Honours, and received the University Medal in 2009.

The It Gets Brighter campaign, which has just gone live, has received videos and support from celebrities including Senator Penny Wright, Geoff Gallop, Jeff Kennett, Pat McGorry, Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Archbishop Justin Welby and Professor Norman Sartorius.

The campaign website is designed to give hope to those living with a mental health issue, and those who support them.

Ms Lawrance, who is director of the campaign, said it showed young people that there is “power in their vulnerability”.

“Young people often feel they are by themselves in encountering mental health issues and this can lead to a perceived stigma of such experiences, preventing them from accessing support,” she said.

“We hope our videos will help them recognise they are in fact not alone and encourage them to seek appropriate support.

“We have been really fortunate to receive a lot of support in Australia, from spokespeople such as Senator Penny Wright, Jeff Kennett, Prof Geoff Gallop, Nicole Gibson, Dr Jane Burns and others.

“While the vast majority of mental health problems start before the age of 24, many young people struggling with mental health issues feel alone in these struggles.”

Canadian student Josh Chauvin, who is It Gets Brighter’s Executive Director, said the platform was based on the idea that the vast majority of mental illness is treatable.

“We want to reinforce that mental health issues can, and should, improve, provided people seek out the help and support appropriate for their needs,” he said.

There are presently over 20 videos on the website, and Ms Lawrance and Mr Chauvin are appealing to members of the public to submit more to help further the message and empower young people to seek out help and support.

“We welcome anyone and everyone who wants to submit a video,” Mr Chauvin said.

“You don’t have to have a personal experience of mental illness to support those among us that do. Telling others that you’re there to listen can be just as important.”

For more information, or submit videos, go to www.itgetsbrighter.org

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