MAKING CHANGES: Amy Cartmill, who has anxiety, believes community attitudes towards mental illness need to change.
MAKING CHANGES: Amy Cartmill, who has anxiety, believes community attitudes towards mental illness need to change. Chris Ison Rokchorizon

Cooee Bay teen out to change minds on anxiety

AMY Cartmill was 10 years old when she started to feel the pressure of anxiety.

She had just moved from Melbourne to Central Queensland, leaving behind a close-knit extended family and strong support system.

It took a year for Amy to feel comfortable speaking to a doctor, who recommended she undergo counselling.

Now 16, the Cooee Bay teenager has learnt how to cope better with her anxiety, and finds spending time with friends or relaxing with some good music and an interesting book help her overall wellbeing.

But she still experiences panic attacks and anxiety sometimes.

"At the time you get them, you don't remember afterward why you were so upset, but you just feel so pushed into a corner," she said.

"At the time you just feel you don't want to talk to anyone, you don't want to be around anyone.

"It can make you feel worthless.

"One of the worst things is when it hits, it hits you hard."

Amy said when she initially started counselling, she didn't open up to many friends about her anxiety.

"At first I didn't want anyone knowing because it was embarrassing," she said.

"Now, if people ask me (about a doctor's appointment) I tell them it's about my mental health.

"You don't want to really advertise it because I think it comes back to feeling anxious about what people think about it."

Amy said it was important for the community to try and understand mental health issues and the huge affect they can have on someone.

But she said it was hard to know how to start changing the collective community mindset.

"Everyone knows about it, but they don't really know how to handle it," Amy said.

"I think the biggest thing is people need to learn it isn't something to be made fun of, or something to joke about.

"People who have mental health issues are already struggling to cope; they don't need other people to add their two cents into it.

"It might not be a physical illness, but it is something you have to live with for the rest of your life."

 

If you need to speak to someone, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636