"Accidental podcaster” Yenny Stromgren opened her exhibition about mental health on R U OK Day at the J. Amber Macpherson

Light warriors share stories for R U OK Day

A LOCAL podcaster joined forces with R U OK Day last week and opened an inspiring photography exhibition to shine a light on mental health and suicide.

Yenny Stromgren launched her portrait exhibition Everyday Light Warriors at the J on Thursday, which shows images of people she looks up to as happy, positive "light warriors”.

Yenny said the exhibition began as a way to combat her own depression by interviewing the subjects to find out what makes them so full of life.

"This actually started last year when I was separated, I got depressed, and I started to look for my life purpose,” Yenny said.

"I thought I'd photograph people and put an exhibition together, people that are happy, and are inspiring.

"I had my phone, and I started to record them. So I actually created a podcast, and now it's global on iTunes. And I found my life purpose at the same time.”

Yenny now has an online following at her Everyday Light Warriors website, and is known as the "accidental podcaster”.

Yenny said she was surprised to learn of the challenges and trauma some of her subjects had faced when they appeared so positive on the surface.

"I actually got shocked. A couple of people I interviewed, they revealed so much about their past,” Yenny said.

"But they wanted to share their story, to get it out there. That's also one way that I wanted to work with and spread awareness about R U OK Day, how important it is to share your story, and not to bottle it up - spread it out.”

Among the subjects, Yenny has interviewed an ex-Broncos player, an Archibald Prize finalist, musicians, cancer and stroke survivors, and many more.

Yenny said she noticed that all of her subjects took responsibility for their own mental health, and knew it was okay to not to be okay sometimes.

"They take responsibility for their own happiness, that's what makes them happy and strong,” Yenny said.

"But they also allow themselves to be sad. You have to allow yourself to be sad and not just say 'I'm okay, I'm okay'.”

Yenny said one of the most important ways to approach mental illness is to listen to people who may be suffering.

"Just start a conversation and listen. I think R U OK are doing a great campaign. It's all about starting a conversation,” Yenny said.

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