A CHARITY that specialises in helping young people with hearing loss is launching a social media campaign – #undeafeated – to help teenagers feel confident enough to connect to vital mental health services.
Hear for You’s national manager, Mr John Lui, says that the past two years has been difficult for young people and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for more young people to access essential mental health services.
“Through this social media campaign, we’re creating greater awareness of these services to teenagers, and we’re encouraging them to connect with mental health providers” Mr Lui said.
“We want to remove the stigma of accessing professional help and assist young people to access services they might otherwise not have known about.”
Hear For You was founded in 2008 by Ms Olivia Anderson, who was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at eight months old.
She decided to use her personal experiences as a deaf person to make a difference in the lives of young people across Australia.
Through Hear for You’s mentorship programs and workshops, deaf teenagers have the chance to connect with mentors to help guide them through the challenges of being deaf throughout their young lives.
To date, the charity has run over 100 programs and workshops, and has helped equip over 1250 teenagers with essential life skills.
Hear For You mentor, Ms Nomiki Lau, 25, was diagnosed as having sensorineural moderate-severe hearing loss in both ears when she was six years old.
She says one of the hardest things for her during the COVID-19 lockdowns was mental fatigue and a strong lack of motivation.
“Most of my days were spent working from home,” Ms Lau said.
“WFH can bring fatigue, and there is a lack of human interaction.
“On top of that, work and personal life slowly became a blur as work was constantly on my mind and I found myself working longer hours.
“Slowly, I started to miss out on other things that I used to enjoy doing such as cooking or reading. Motivation then became something that I had to work on, and I had to remind myself to think helpful thoughts,” Ms Lau added.
Ms Lau said she eventually had to set work/life boundaries at home, which helped her enormously in both personal and work performance.
“To do my hobbies after work, I needed to finish work on time. I then minimised distractions during work hours to ensure that I got it done.
“With more time to myself, I found the time to do the things I enjoyed doing including exercising, which helps to battle mental fatigue, reading and watching my favourite TV dramas.
“My relationships with friends and family were also better as I was in a better mood, and I dedicated times to have quality conversations,” Ms Lau added.
#Undeafeated recognises that everyone – whether they have a hearing loss or not – will experience difficult emotions at times.
The social media assets have been created to educate teenagers about mental health issues and encourage all teens, who might struggle, to ask for help.
“Mental health initiatives dedicated to young people are essential to ensuring that teenagers feel heard, understood and aren’t struggling on their own,” Mr Lui added.
“We want to normalise the conversation and teach young Australians that it is okay to ask for help.”
Ms Lau said as a Hear For You mentor, she is continuously inspired by the bravery and courage of younger people.
“It’s amazing to see mentees benefiting from these workshop programs. It’s great watching them grow from at first being shy and not wanting to interact, to being more outgoing and more confident at the end of the workshop,” Ms Lau added.
Ms Lau encourages any young deaf person currently experiencing mental health issues to access vital mental health services such as Hear For You.
“You have the right to accessible ways of working and learning,” Ms Lau continued.
“Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself because otherwise how will you ever bring your best self to work or learn to the best of your ability?”
In 2021, Hear For You joined forces with The Shepherd Centre, a charity that has been delivering world-leading therapy for young children with hearing loss for more than 50 years.
Hear For You has also partnered with mental health providers including Kids Helpline, Reach Out, and Lifeline for the #Undeafeated social media campaign, which will see teens directed to these resources for further help.
Ms Lau also has one last piece of advice for people currently experiencing mental health issues: “Try not to overthink things. This can be a particularly easy thing to do especially in a lockdown. This is because most of the things we worry about probably won’t happen.”
For crisis support, please contact:
Kids Helpline – call 1800 55 1800 or chat online at https://kidshelpline.com.au/get-help/webchat-counselling
Lifeline – call 13 11 14 or text 0477 13 11 14 or chat online at https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat/