Hills Shire Council Youth Ambassador Tian Yi Wong See is very passionate about youth mental health.
Having struggled with mental health personally, Tian knows all too well how serious of a topic it is.
That is why he has written a book, ‘One in Five to None in Five’, aimed at undoing the stigma surrounding youth mental health.
Focus caught up with Tian to discuss his book, the struggles facing youth in our society and what we can do to help.
Q: What inspired you to write a book about mental health?
A: I wanted people to feel like they are not alone, that there is hope and to give people an opportunity to share their stories in the hope that it can help others. I also wanted to shed light on the diversity of experiences with mental illness and create a shared understanding that everyone is different and therefore, will have a different mentality.
Q: You’re calling on others to submit their personal stories of dealing with mental health for the next edition of your book. What advice would you give anyone who is a bit hesitant to share their own experience?
A: The main goal is to help others who may be in a similar situation to what you are in. The secondary goal is to give the community an idea of what it’s like from our perspective. It is a big ask, because it feels personal, and it is, but One in 5 people experience a mental illness, so as stated before, ‘you are not alone’.
Q: What would you like to see happen in the area of youth mental health moving forward?
A: I’d like to see the wider community be more accepting of people suffering from mental illness, especially the youth, who appear to face a higher incidence and stigma. Of course, I would also like to see those incidences drop.
Q: What can we all do in general to do a better job of addressing youth mental health?
A: Try to be as understanding as you can with people who are experiencing mental illness. This could be just something like sitting down and listening to them or starting a comfortable conversation. Simply being a good friend or family member can give that extra bit of comfort that might just be what they need. If you’re unsure whether someone’s got a diagnosable condition, don’t push it, but make sure you’re there for them so that if there is something you can do, they will feel comfortable with your assistance. It is also important that others don’t constantly compare kids and youth with each other. The world is changing all the time and each situation is different – you can’t compare or “rank” any situation.
Q: You’re a big advocate for youth mental health and you’re working on a second edition of your book. Any other big mental health projects coming up in the near future?
A: In the next few months, the other two Youth Ambassadors and I will be planning an event targeted to youth, centred around mental health. Regarding the book, future editions may revolve around other topical issues, for example, the environment and what will be called ‘growing up differently’.