Pageant gives confidence to talk about mental health
After suffering multiple head injuries, and losing friends and family members to suicide, Hannah Audas had lost all her confidence. It was not until her mum signed her up for Miss Rotorua this year, Audas said she started to feel better in herself. Now, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, she wants to help others speak up. In the month of June alone last year, the 16-year-old Rotorua teen suffered six knocks to the head. A keen sports enthusiast, Audas said five of the injuries happened while playing football, netball and volleyball, and another head injury occurred after an accident while at work in a cafe. The toll it took on the Aquinas College student was not only physical. Audas said she suffered from bad migraines and often woke up shaking after nightmares, but the biggest side effect was the anxiety she felt.
The injuries, combined with the loss of a school friend and the death of her uncle, all became too much.
“I didn’t have any confidence and I didn’t want to go out in public any more,” she said.
Her uncle, Jeremy Avis, worked as a nurse and committed suicide in 2016 after being subjected to workplace bullying.
Audas said she did not know how to tell her parents she was struggling as the death was “awful” on her entire family, especially her mum.
“I knew she was really suffering, so there were times when I didn’t want to go to school to make sure she was okay,” she said.
“Being a burden” and adding stress on her mum were the reasons she did not tell her family she was struggling with
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111. anxiety and depression. But Audas said her mum could tell something was wrong.
“My mum was the one that signed me up for Miss Rotorua because she wanted to me to feel good about myself again.”
And that was exactly what the pageant did for Audas when she came away with the title of Miss Teen Rotorua first runner up.
“It wasn’t normal for me to put myself out there on stage and I was really scared, but once I did I gained so much confidence. I really needed that.”
Now Audas is looking at ways to help others. She has brainstormed ideas including setting up a charity or raising money for the Mental Health Foundation.