Pageant gives con­fi­dence to talk about men­tal health

Rotorua Daily Post - - OUR PEOPLE - Amy Di­a­mond

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.

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