Taking Charge of My Mental Health

Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is unprecedented and it’s confusing and worrying for all of us – causing increased stress, anxiety and fear in many. For people already living with complex mental health issues, the impact of a pandemic like this can be significant.  Physical and psychological impacts of imposed quarantine, self-isolation, physical distancing and separation from loved ones can exacerbate or trigger the symptoms of mental health issues. Personally, having to stay inside/at home for an extended period of time without seeing many of my loved ones has affected me greatly. As young people we endure a busy schedule of school and social lives, sports and possibly jobs – having all of these things taken away can severely impact one’s mental health. I know for me not seeing my friends 5 days a week at school, losing my job of 5 years, no longer being able to see extended family, having my last year of schooling turned upside down and even something as simple as having to spend 2 weeks of school holidays at home! I have to admit, I enjoy a good day in bed watching Brooklyn Nine Nine for the 4th time every once in a while, but when there is nothing else to do, it gets boring. As a result of this I have adapted my routine, found new things I love and tried to keep my mental health stable, being one of the main goals.

Here are 5 practical ways to I have found help to alleviate anxiety, distract my mind and help me cope with this pandemic

Exercise – before self-isolation began, I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t do much exercise, i’d rather scroll through Tik Tok then go for a walk. Yet ever since we have been confined to our homes, I made a pact with my brother that at 4pm every afternoon we would got for a 3km walk. We walk exactly the same route every day, this does not change, some days we might run, some days we walk, depends how we are feeling. It gets us out of the house, he listens to music and I listen to a podcast, yes it’s just a walk, but it is also a break for your brain from screens, news updates and even family members if need be.

Doing what I love – for many individuals, young and old, doing what they love may have been taken away from them due to the restrictions and rules set in place by the government. Personally ‘what I love’ is art, design, graphics and with this abundance of free time I have rediscovered my love for this. Before this pandemic hit I had lost all confidence in my work, yet with experimentation, feedback and a lot of free time, I have found my confidence again.

Maintaining communication – maintaining communication with your loved ones couldn’t be any easier in a technology run world like we have today. I know I struggle with not seeing my best friends every day, going from seeing them 5 days a week to no at all for months has really affected me. Not having them there when I need a laugh or even a hug, yet through apps such as facetime and zoom, communication can still be maintained even when we can’t be with them. I know many families around the country are using Apps such as Zoom to communicate with families that may be spread around the country, even the world. The technology we have access to at our fingertips is so easy to use and you can see your best friends on your phone in seconds, but remember, if you haven’t heard from your friend in a while and you think they might be struggling, send them a text, check in with them, even facetime them. You could make their day

Have a day to myself if needed – this sound silly considering we have to spend every day with our families at home, but sometimes being with your siblings or parents 24-7 can mean butting heads, siblings doing everything in their power to annoy you, and it is times like that when taking time for yourself is needed the most. We should be using this quality time with our family to try and build stronger connections, not tear them down. This may be easier said  than done, but just going to your room for 5 minutes or so to calm down, having a bath, even putting some calm music on can help reduce your stress, anger and diffuse situations.

Turn off the news – every second of the day, we are consumed by news updates and conferences, whether it be on the TV or Facebook, this can have a real impact on mental health and I know it has mine. When you’re watching TV and there is an update, turn it off, if it’s anything important to do with the Virus, you will hear it 50 more times during the day, I’m sure. Find something new to focus your mind on, because watching and listening to news updates, hearing about the horrendous number of deaths around the world, anxiety will start to rise, stress levels too. All we can do is listen and do what the professionals say, stay home and wait till this all passes.



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Facilitator in Laptop Screen

I found Burn Bright in the midst of studying civil engineering at the University of Wollongong, just as I wanted a richer, deeper, more full experience of life.

Through Burn Bright, I have met many students and volunteers who are all seeking to find their place in the world. When we come together at NLC or SLC, no matter our age, we begin on the same page, of wanting to do good for ourselves, our community, and the world. And then we are thrown into a program that brings us closer to each other, our purpose, and how to bring forth this impact. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

Volunteering with Burn Bright stoked a fire in me – It helped me feel comfortable in myself and made me realise life isn’t just about work, study, or productivity, but our relationships and how we connect with others along the way.

I have learned skills in videography, worked for a top-tier corporation in marketing, and most recently published a book called “18 and lost? So were we” 

I have a passion for storytelling, bring loads of energy wherever I go, and am dedicated to helping young people move through the initiation of leaving high school and going into the ‘real world’. 

The best part for me is being able to stay connected to the latest generation growing through high school. To see them grow, expand and express more of themselves is like watching an artwork paint itself. It’s magic.

I am Simon Thurston, a Kiwi based in Perth. I work as an Instructional Designer and in my spare time I enjoy reading, running, and board games.

Since my initial connection to Burn Bright I have been onboard with their mission. Burn Bright’s focus on building the capabilities enables students of all ages to see how they can shape their world through connections with others and their own self discovery.

Seeing others grow, learn, and open up is what keeps me coming back, to help others realise their potential and how they can influence their future and their community is a definite highlight. It’s infectious, the atmosphere when they run a program or camp is welcoming, exciting, emotional, and rewarding all in one.



Hi, friends! I’m Kelsie, a psychologist from central QLD working in private practice. I got involved with Burn Bright officially in 2016, but the journey started long before that. I attended the National Leadership Camp (now hosted annually by Burn Bright) in 2009. It had such a profound impact on me that I returned as a mentor and volunteer. Those connections ultimately lead me to joining the Burn Bright team as an adult.

When I transitioned from facilitating with the Burn Bright team to working as a psychologist, I was so grateful for an incredible foundation of skills (particularly facilitation, communication and interpersonal skills) along with a strong grounding in positive psychology that Burn Bright integrates into their ethos.

I can’t imagine my life without volunteering for Burn Bright. I have met some of my dearest friends through the Burn Bright crew. I’ve found that volunteering for BB is rewarding, humbling, and often brings as much personal growth for the volunteer as it does for the young person.

From a professional perspective, I love that Burn Bright programs/camps support the adolescent individuation process by providing an exciting and supportive environment for teens to explore their own sense of self, personality, identify and values alongside other young people.

Imagine this POV: you’re back at school wanting to figure everything out and fit in – and you find
yourself in a room with amazing music that uplifts you and hooks you in. You meet the team of
dynamic, interesting, caring facilitators whose own friendships inspire you. Their facilitation skills bring about amazing light-bulb moments and lessons that light a fire inside you… It makes me want to feel that for myself again. The next best thing, for me, is volunteering for the team who passes that on to other young people.

My start at Burn Bright is one of the best cases of one door closing and another door opening. After losing my job at a local pub while on uni holidays, I started looking for new opportunities that were different and decided to volunteer. Searching for opportunities, I found working bees, community driving and nursing home visits, but the chance to become a National Leadership Camp intern stood out. Over nearly six months, I worked with the team to pull off Burn Bright’s first National Leadership Camp, and had an absolute blast in the process. After camp, I started working for Burn Bright while studying, doing anything and everything — data analysis, hiring strategy and even picking up furniture.

Finishing up working for Burn Bright in 2019, I am still actively involved with the Burn Bright volunteer community. I’ve found that the emphasis placed on investing in your relationships, understanding your values and making an impact allow you to be accepted for you. This has given me the tools needed to make the difficult decisions that life will inevitably throw at you. Besides all that, I’ve had a ton of fun and formed life-long friendships with people I may have never crossed paths with otherwise. “Get involved — you’ll change your life for the better and make life‑long friends in the process”.

I am a health science student from Perth wanting to get into the mental health realm of occupational therapy. In the meantime, I work as a barista and supervisor at a beachside café. In my spare time, I love to play netball, be around my friends and I have just gotten into crocheting. I went to Perth College where I was lucky enough to go to the first Perth College Leadership Camp in 2018 as a student and absolutely loved it. What really drew me in was the atmosphere that was created, the open conversations, and the lasting relationships formed.

Since then I have been a mentor for the Perth College Leadership Camp in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and had the opportunity to go to the National Leadership Camp in 2019. When Burn Bright comes to Perth I also love helping out at their programs as much as I can.

Volunteering for Burn Bright has given me so much that I could never have imagined. I have learned so much about myself and I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities that I know I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t exposed to the amazing opportunities volunteering for Burn Bright has given me. Before being involved I would never have seen myself being a mentor, role model, and facilitator to students, but now I can confidently say that I am, and I have made an impact on others that I am proud of. I have also made so many meaningful connections to so many amazing people from all around Australia through Burn Bright. I get asked quite a bit why I keep coming back to my old school to volunteer and it’s simply because I was given this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Burn Bright programs and if I can help facilitate that experience to someone else then why wouldn’t I?

I was born in Perth and moved to Sydney in my early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker. This was followed by 30 years working in IT as a computer programmer.

Following retirement in 2016 I searched for an organisation that was aligned with my values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space. This search led to Burn Bright where I am now volunteering one day a week and mentoring at the National Leadership Camp. Volunteering with Burn Bright gives me a great deal of hope and confidence in the next generation of leaders. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Burn Bright family.

I have been married to Denise for 41 years and we both very much feel part of the Burn Bright team.

When not at Burn Bright you may find me running along Manly beach, riding my mountain bike or indulging in my passion for photography.











Hi! I’m Rosie, a 20-something full-time public servant, part-time Tassie tourism advocate.

I am passionate about seeing young people succeed, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching them become the next generation of change-makers.

I have been a champion of the ethos and work of Burn Bright since its inception in 2014, and consider them to be the leading experts in their field. By delivering impactful leadership and wellbeing programs to students across Australia, they offer the knowledge, skills and engagement to invoke lasting positive change in school communities.

The Burn Bright team are dedicated, inclusive and values-driven, which is why I love working with them.