Hi, I’m Jessie, I was invited to join the Raise program in 2017. Back then I was struggling with feeling isolated and anxious and I was highly self-critical. I found it difficult to trust others. Having someone to talk to who turned up just for me every week was a huge help...
Being a teenager is a lot for a young mind.
Young people are struggling to find hope for their future. A Mentor can help.
We chatted to former mentee Jessie who, as a year 8 student, struggled with mental health and wellbeing issues.
Jessie, can you tell us a little bit about the kind of teenager you were in Year 8?
I would describe my year 8 self as anxious and isolated. I was unsure of the world, others and unsure of myself. I was very perfectionistic and highly self-critical, so I never reached the high standards I was setting for myself, and I also had trouble asking for help coping with these attitudes.
Looking back, can you see why you were invited into the Raise program?
I think I knew at the time! I was struggling with life but found it difficult to trust others enough to articulate what was going on and how I was feeling. Instead, I withdrew from my peers and relied on self-destructive behaviors to get through.
Can you describe your Raise mentoring experience?
The mentoring experience informed me about issues young people face, while developing my communication skills and helping to identify some meaningful goals I could work towards. I developed a strong, positive relationship with my mentor, who listened carefully to everything I had to say, and made me feel heard. Having someone outside of school and home who I could chat with and look up to was incredibly valuable, particularly during such a challenging time. Overall, my Raise mentoring experience was empowering, practical, and fun, too!
Can you describe how your mentor helped you?
At the time, just having an impartial adult show up for me and listen to me every week was so significant and helped me learn how to trust again.
Mentoring could not solve everything that was happening in my life but it did give me the skills to reach out to others to seek support, as well as the self-confidence to seek out ways to connect with my community. I gained a lot of social support as a result.
Can you describe what you think life would be like for you now if you’d never had a mentor? What wouldn’t have got better and importantly what could have got worse for you?
I probably would not have extended myself socially and made connections with others. I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to embrace or at least feel secure through times of change.
Things that could have got worse...I may not have sought help for the issues I was facing at the time which could have harmed my future.
What is one thing that you remember from your mentor?
I was quite sensitive to others and the world around me, which I thought was a bad thing, making me ‘weak’. My mentor helped me reframe this view: actually, sensitivity can be a strength too!
What would you say to someone considering mentoring with Raise as a Mentor?
Teenagers crave acceptance and often a mentor is the first person to show they care and accept their mentee. All by showing up and listening and helping them navigate tough topics. This is an invaluable experience. You might see mentoring as a commitment to the program but mentees see it as a commitment to them – that shows someone cares and that matters.
How do you feel about yourself now and the world around you?
I feel much more secure within myself, and can accept who I am. I have hope for the future, and dreams for making it the life I want to live. I can form meaningful friendships with others and speak up for myself in the workplace. I believe that I have value, the world has beauty and that my life can be worthwhile.
Jessie, can you tell us what you are doing now?
I am now studying Psychology at University of Sydney and my dream is to work with children and young people to help improve their mental health! My personal wellbeing is also in a much better place today.
Thanks to Raise, I feel much more secure within myself, and can accept who I am. I have hope for the future, and dreams for making it the life I want to live. I can form meaningful friendships with others and speak up for myself in the workplace. I say yes to opportunities now too.
Where you think you would be today without the mentoring program?
The program intervened at a key point in my adolescence, where I was still able to make changes and head down a different path to the way I was going. When I entered the program, I felt stuck: lots was happening to me, and I didn’t know how to cope. Although I didn’t act immediately with the skills and knowledge the Raise program equipped me with, I was slowly able to gain a sense of agency over my own life, deciding to make changes (like moving schools) that would ultimately benefit me and my wellbeing.