Walking to raise awareness
LUKE Mawson believes every teenager wants to be "happy”, but that doesn't mean young people always feel happy or know how or where to seek help or support when they need it.
"I think every teenager wants to be the happy person - they don't want to say, 'I'm not doing well' in case people look down on you',” he said.
Luke, a 16-year-old from Moranbah, is determined to be part of a network of people aiming to provide more mental health services in the region, and so this January he began training to walk nearly 100km along the Kokoda trail in Papua New Guinea as a fundraiser.
He leaves for the trek on April 16 and finishes the eight day walk with a dawn service at Port Moresby on Anzac Day.
His dad David Mawson and a group of 12 others will trek together and Luke said all the money he raised would be donated to Livin - a group devoted to reducing the stigma and increasing the understanding surrounding youth mental health.
Luke said he had a friend who died by suicide, aged 16, and the tragedy was an "eye opener” for him.
Aged 14 at the time, Luke decided he wanted to start a charity to raise awareness about mental health and youth suicide, however, as he was so young he chose to raise money for the cause through organising movie nights, skate nights and youth get-togethers.
"Anything we can do to help Livin is amazing,” Luke said.
"I'd like to see the community get behind mental health more.
"The support we have is great, but there's always room for more.”
He said he'd like to see more talks or seminars providing information to young people and families in the region as well as extended mental health support services being made available in schools.
"I try to get the youth involved in what I'm doing as much as I can, especially in a small place like Moranbah where there isn't much to do.
"I realised that kids even as young as seven or eight can be struggling.”
Luke said he had experienced bullying himself and wanted to do "whatever I can to make a change”.
"I didn't want to be a bystander. Now I just want to support other kids.”
Luke said social media and online bullying was a big contributor to potential mental health issues for young people.
"I want to do anything to wake kids up so they can notice that what they say can hurt people and can lead to someone ending their lives.”
Luke's goal is to raise $3000.
He has set up a giving page for donations and he is being sponsored by Moranbah RSL, Moranbah Community Workers Club and Inception Wealth Group.
Donations for Luke's Kokoda trek can be made via the Everydayhero website give.everydayhero.com/ au/livin-kokoda-trek-2019
If you or anyone you know is in need of support, call Lifeline on 131114.