A HERVEY BAY activist and model is using her status on social media to raise funds and create awareness around mental health.
Melanie Bragg’s motivation to help people better understand depression and suicide prevention stems from her own struggles with mental health as a teenager.
“I personally started experiencing depression when I was about 13 and became suicidal at 15,” she said.
“It took me a long time to overcome that.”
The now 27-year-old wants to raise $10,000 for Mindfull Aus – a charity that encourages people living in high-risk areas of Australia to put wellness back into their own hands.
According to the organisation’s website, it aims to equip individuals with the skills, strategies and techniques to ensure they not only get by and cope, but learn to live and lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.
Melanie, who had already raised around $8,000 as of earlier this week, said she was thrilled at the support she had received so far.
“Some of my friends and family have donated and four local businesses and a Sunshine Coast firm have also become sponsors,” she said.
Local companies that are assisting Melanie include: Blue Gecko Homes, Cars Plus Mechanical, Fraser Coast Accounting Group and Blooms and Petals Florist.
Money raised by Melanie will help people right here in Hervey Bay.
Melanie told Good News Fraser Coast she had seen firsthand the impact of depression.
“I have lost some friends as a result of mental health issues and they were all really good people. I felt so much pain that I wasn’t able to help them,” she explained.
“I knew the feelings and what they were going through.”
That’s when she decided to take action and help others.
“I decided to immerse myself in mental health and use my following as a model to reach out to people.”
Melanie started sharing messages on her social media platforms to encourage people to speak out if they were struggling.
“So many people are suffering in silence. I would love to be able to start educating people from a young age and help share information about how to cope,” she said.
While using social media to share her message, Melanie said it was also important for people to realise online content was not always a fair reflection of reality.
“Social media posts often display unrealistic expectations. It is easy for people to fall into the trap of believing it is real life. I found it very overwhelming and I wanted to walk away from it,” she said.
Melanie tried to reduce her social media use but understood the people who she wanted to communicate with were on the platforms.
“It’s not healthy to compare yourself with what you see on social media, especially when it comes to body image. Staying online means I am vulnerable too, but people are reaching out and that’s rewarding,” she said.
Melanie regularly shares stories about posing, filters and photo editing to emphasize the fact that what you see on your newsfeed is not always authentic.
“It’s really important that people follow accounts that make them feel good,” she said.
“People think mental health has a certain look and that’s not true at all. I want to help eradicate that stigma.”
If you want to help Melanie reach her fundraising target, you can contact her on Instagram.
“Even if you can’t donate money, get in touch, there are other ways you could help people too,” she said.
Melanie will also appear in travel and philanthropy television show, Adventure All Stars.
Money that she raises will also go to Mindfull Aus.
Another of Melanie’s goals is to bring the organisation’s CEO Matt Runnalls to Hervey Bay to speak about mental health.
The award-winning speaker has presented at hundreds of events in Australia and abroad.